Ed Davey demands rural cost of living rescue package including heating oil price cap

  • Lib Dems call for rescue package for struggling families in rural areas
  • Conservatives accused of leaving rural communities “out in the cold” after refusing to cap price of heating oil
  • Top 25 areas most reliant on heating oil revealed

The Liberal Democrats have demanded a rural cost of living rescue package, including a cap on heating oil prices to help struggling families off the gas grid. The party warned that the Conservatives are leaving rural communities “out in the cold” by refusing to help with soaring bills.

Rural communities are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis with soaring heating bills, petrol prices and food costs all hitting struggling families.

The rural cost of living rescue package would include a cap on heating oil costs to support the estimated 1.5 million homes off the gas grid, and bringing in an emergency tax cut slashing VAT from 20% to 17.5%, saving families an average of £600 each. The VAT cut would save a motorist £48 a year on filling up their car.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling for a Community Ambulance Fund, to help reverse station closures in rural areas and cut ambulance wait times. 

The Conservative government has refused to cap prices for heating oil, leaving consumers vulnerable to soaring prices. In response to a recent parliamentary question, a Conservative minister said: “A price cap is not necessary as consumers can shop around and switch suppliers more easily than for gas and electricity.”

Prices of heating oil have more than doubled to around 95p a litre, compared to 45p in August 2021. It means the cost of heating oil for the average household is expected to soar by between £700 to £1,700 this year.

Former Energy Secretary and Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey is calling for an energy price cap for heating oil to help families in rural areas struggling to get by. Under the party’s proposals, the government would step in to cover the cost if oil goes above the set price, protecting families from soaring prices and preventing small business suppliers from going bust. 

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed the top 25 areas most reliant on heating oil. Mid Suffolk has the highest proportion, where just under 30% of homes use heating oil, followed by Eden in Cumbria (25%) and North Norfolk (24%). Other hard hit areas include Shropshire (15%), South Cambridgeshire (13%) and South Somerset (12%).

It comes as the outgoing Deputy President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) and ex-Conser Stuart Robert announced he has joined the Liberal Democrats, warning that the Conservatives are letting down farmers and rural communities.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: “This Conservative government is leaving rural communities out in the cold through their stubborn refusal to help those facing soaring heating bills.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey

“People are being plunged into fuel poverty but instead of helping, the Conservatives are raising unfair taxes again and again.

“The Liberal Democrats are demanding a rescue package for rural areas, through a cap on heating oil prices and an emergency tax cut to save struggling families six hundred pounds. We would set up an Ambulance Community Fund, so that if you have to call nine nine nine you know they will be there.

“Next week’s local elections are a chance to send Boris Johnson a message that people in rural areas are fed up of being taken for granted. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats will help elect a strong local champion who will fight for a fair deal for their community.”

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani added: “Many areas of Saddleworth are particularly hit by these costs – I know many people up in Denshaw who rely on oil heating and are being hit by these price increases.

“People need our help. The Government must deliver.”

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