Gordon Brown has called on the UK Government’s emergency response committee to come together to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
Writing for the Daily Record newspaper on Monday, the former prime minister issued a plea for “urgent measures” to cover further rises in fuel bills amid “millions standing on the edge of a financial precipice”.
He urged Boris Johnson to unite with Tory leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to prepare and agree on an emergency budget – or face growing pressure to recall Parliament and force them to do so.
Mr Brown said: “With millions standing on the edge of a financial precipice, we call for urgent measures to cover the cost of a further £1000-plus rise in fuel bills on top of April’s already painful increases.
“The facts right now are grim: four in every five pensioners, four in every five single parents and four in every five large families face fuel poverty – that’s when their energy bills come to more than 10 per cent of their weekly incomes.
“About 35 million people in 13.5 million households are under threat of fuel poverty in October – that’s an unprecedented 49.6% of the UK.”
He warned that if no action is taken ahead of a further price rise in January, the number of fuel poor in the UK could reach 39 million people in 15 million households.
Mr Brown said: “Cobra, the UK Government’s disaster emergency committee, should be in permanent session to deal with the coming fuel and energy crisis.
“Even if Boris Johnson has gone on holiday, his deputies should be negotiating to buy new oil and gas supplies from other countries and urgently creating the extra storage capacity we currently lack.
“We should be persuading homes and buildings – as Germany is now doing – to cut back on energy usage wherever possible in the hope we can prevent formal rationing.”
He also said that Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss should get together to plan and agree an immediate budget to prevent a “winter heating catastrophe”.
Cobra, or COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms), is a UK Government civil contingencies committee which meets to discuss matters of national emergency or major disruption.
The former prime minister also spoke out on Good Morning Britain on Monday, where he claimed there is a “vacuum” at the centre of Government which has stopped it from tackling the crisis.
He said: “There’s got to be someone in charge. And it’s not just that they’re asleep at the wheel – there’s nobody at the wheel at the moment.
“You’ve got Boris and his chancellor who have been on holiday, and then you’ve got the two leadership candidates on the campaign trail.
“What’s happening at the centre of Government is there is a vacuum and it’s got to be filled immediately if we’re going to protect people by October.”