Energy bills will be slashed for millions of Britons as part of a £10 billion package of measures set to be announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, as the prime minister seeks to move on from the partygate scandal.
Boris Johnson will attempt to shift attention to the cost-of-living crisis after the Sue Gray report, published on Wednesday, laid bare the raucous culture of drinking that led to lockdown breaches in Downing Street.
On Wednesday, the prime minister defied calls to resign despite accepting the “bitter and painful” conclusions of the senior civil servant’s inquiry. He said he “overwhelmingly” believes he should stay in power to tackle the nation’s challenges including the soaring costs of food and energy.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a new package of support likely to include a discount on energy bills funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants on Thursday.
Labour has repeatedly called for a windfall tax on energy firms who have seen a surge in profits in the past year. Shell reported a record £7 billion profit in the first three months of the year while BP made £5 billion - their highest profit in a decade.
The policy led to a rift in the Cabinet, with Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg claiming the Government could not simply “raid” the “honey pot” of private businesses.
Downing Street was previously opposed to a windfall tax but is now understood to have sided with Mr Sunak, the BBC reports.
The intervention comes after Ofgem this week announced the energy cap would rise by a further £800 in October, bringing the typical household energy bill to £2,800 a year. The regulator estimated that the change would push some 12 million households into fuel poverty.
Mr Sunak has already announced a £150 rebate on energy bills for households in council tax bands A-D, but has faced criticism for failing to offer further support for Britain’s poorest families.
Meanwhile, the publication of Ms Gray’s report a day earlier led to fresh questions after it emerged she abandoned her investigation into an “Abba party” in the Downing Street flat.
Ms Gray said she judged it was not “appropriate or proportionate” to continue the “limited” progress she had made after the Metropolitan Police launched its investigation.
The force’s acting head Sir Stephen House could face questions over the saga when he appears before the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee on Thursday.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded an explanation into the force’s decisions after Mr Johnson was fined over just one event, despite being pictured drinking at another gathering.
Mr Johnson declined to implement a booze ban in Downing Street despite Ms Gray’s findings during a period when the Prime Minister ordered the public into isolation.
She said officials drank so much they were sick, became involved in altercations and abused security and cleaning staff.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “I understand why people are indignant and why people have been angry at what took place.”
Pressed on whether he ever considered resigning, he responded: “I overwhelmingly feel it is my job to get on and deliver.
“No matter how bitter and painful that the conclusions of this may be – and they are – and no matter how humbling they are, I have got to keep moving forward and the Government has got to keep moving. And we are.”