UK faces prospect of blackouts this winter, senior Tory MP claims

·3 min read
Electricity pylons run across Romney Marsh in Kent from Dungeness nuclear power station. Ofgem has confirmed an 80.06 percent rise in the energy price cap, sending the average household's yearly bill from GBP 1,971 to GBP 3,549 from October. Picture date: Thursday August 25, 2022. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
MP Neil O'Brien called for urgent action to prevent power outages as the energy crisis worsened. (Getty)

The UK could be hit with blackouts this winter if households do not cut energy use, a Tory MP has warned.

Neil O'Brien, MP for Harborough, Oadby & Wigston, called for urgent action to prevent power outages as the cost of living crisis worsened.

He suggested cutting energy use would be one of the solutions to the energy crisis, along with stopping “mid-income households with big fuel bills going bust” and focusing help on those who needed it the most.

It comes after Ofgem announced a rise in price cap for around 24 million households in England, Scotland and Wales, sending the average yearly bill from £1,971 to £3,549.

Read more: Energy inefficient homes face £1,730 bills rise

Electric bill charges paper form on the table
Ofgem announced a rise in price cap for about 24 million households in the UK. (Getty)

Last week, concerns shortages on the continent could jeopardise the supply of gas back to the UK were played down by No 10, which insisted households and businesses will not face blackouts this winter.

Downing Street highlighted both North Sea production and the use of “reliable partners” such as Norway in ensuring homes could be heated and the lights kept on.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Households, businesses and industry can be confident they will get the electricity and gas that they need over the winter.

“That’s because we have one of the most reliable and diverse energy systems in the world.”

She said people should not panic or feel they should cut down on energy use.

Read more: Food banks warn surge in demand will prevent feeding hungriest this winter

O'Brien previously worked as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and was also the prime minister’s adviser on levelling up the UK.

He added it was “no time to set up complex new systems”, and the government should cut a percentage on all bills, increase benefits and “clawback part of cost from energy firm superprofits.”

He said when it came to reducing a percentage of bills he was open to either a lateral per cent reduction, a flat bill reducer or free allowance or a total bill cap.

O'Brien tweeted: “You could do a bit of both a) & b). A free allowance/bill reducer is a bigger share of income for poorer households but an X% reduction helps people with middle incomes and high bills.

“(It) partly depends on what you're doing on benefits I guess.”

Watch: Protesters gather outside Ofgem HQ calling for ‘payment strike’ on energy bills

Last week, chancellor Nadim Zahawi caused anger after suggesting people should cut their energy use.

He said: “The reality is that we should all look at our energy consumption. It is a difficult time. There is war on our continent."

Meanwhile, it was reported on Sunday that a coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire would remain open as part of efforts to prevent blackouts.

Uniper, which operates Ratcliffe-on-Soar, confirmed it was continuing discussions to keep the plant running beyond September as per a government request.

Earlier this month, a report revealed households and businesses could be subjected to planned power outages if cold temperatures combine with reduced European imports.

Bloomberg UK reported the government had an emergency plan for a shortfall of around a sixth of peak energy demand, which could see supplies turned off for four days in January.