North Yorkshire Tories call for direct targeted energy bill help

North Yorkshire County Council has told the Conservative Party leadership candidates that direct targeted help will be needed to support residents through the energy cost crisis.

Senior members of the party in the traditional Conservative stronghold of North Yorkshire say they are becoming increasingly concerned about how the most vulnerable members of the community will cope financially ahead of Ofgem confirming October’s energy price cap on Friday.

They have pointed towards demand for North Yorkshire County Council’s Local Assistance Fund, which provides practical support for vulnerable people needing help with essential living costs, doubling in recent months.

Energy bills are forecast to top £5,300 annually in April next year, representing a huge increase from previous predictions.

Prime ministerial candidate frontrunner Liz Truss has promised an “emergency budget” if she is selected, saying she would reverse National Insurance rises and stop business tax hikes.

She has also suggested extra cash support may be available for families struggling with energy bills.

Meanwhile Rishi Sunak said he would prioritise tackling inflation and introduce more targeted support for households, pledging to reduce VAT on domestic energy bills.

Thirsk and Northallerton MP Kevin Hollinrake has appealed to Ms Truss to focus on supporting low-income households.

“These people are going to be on the streets,” Mr Hollinrake said.

A meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive heard its finance boss and deputy leader, Councillor Gareth Dadd, say while he remained confident the authority could rise to the challenge of tackling inflationary pressures, some residents would struggle.

Coun Dadd said: “If I can just give one message to either one of the, well one in particular, of the prime ministerial candidates, call it hand-outs, call it what you want, there is no two ways, given the rising price cap that we are expecting in a few days’ time, direct support will be needed to those most in need.

“A pound a week saving via a tax cut will not make the cut as far as I am concerned across the most vulnerable residents in North Yorkshire.

“It’s about time we got real and recognised this and it’s direct support that’s needed as there’s an impact on our services and our costs. I think we’ve already seen evidence of that through the Local Assistance Fund.

“The plea is direct target help with those energy bills will go a long way to seeing off some of the demand rises that we’ve seen lately.”