Martin Lewis in furious clash with OVO energy boss

Martin Lewis in furious clash with OVO energy boss

09/05/2022

‘You’re a fat cat making the profits, ripping people off’: Martin Lewis in furious clash with OVO energy boss as the tycoon warns it’s, ‘not very British’ to refuse to pay rising gas bills

  • Chief executive of OVO described the coming months as ‘a winter like no other’
  • Comes amid fears are rising that cost of living crisis will lead to energy rationing
  • Campaign group Don’t Pay UK has called for for mass non-payment of fuel bills
  • But Stephen Fitzpatrick says this would only ‘put the price up for everybody else’

Martin Lewis and the boss of OVO have clashed over soaring energy prices after he labelled the energy tycoon ‘a fat cat’ who is ‘ripping people off’.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, chief executive of the energy company, has also described the coming months as ‘a winter like no other’ during an appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

His warning comes amid rising fears that a cost of living Armageddon will lead to energy rationing and even blackouts as energy bills continue to surge.

Mr Fitzpatrick explained ‘there are lots of things the Government can do in the next 12 weeks’ to ease the cost of living crisis and ‘lighten the load’ on British households.

But Mr Lewis accused the energy boss of ‘sitting there talking like this when you’re a fat cat making the profits, ripping people off’.

The OVO founder replied: ‘There are a lot of companies making extraordinary large profits. Not necessarily by doing anything wrong but they are making a lot of money.

‘I set up a retail energy business 13 years ago, only in retail, we only work on behalf of customers. We have no invested interests, except for what is good for customers.’  

Meanwhile, campaign group Don’t Pay UK has called for for mass non-payment of fuel bills in order to ‘break the system’.

But Mr Fitzpatrick said today that non-payments would only serve to ‘put the price up for everybody else’.

He added: ‘In terms of the campaign for Don’t Pay [UK], I think we all understand there are going to be millions of people in the UK this winter that are really going to struggle and aren’t going to be able to pay.

‘But I think when I see campaigns calling for people, that even those that can afford, not to, I don’t think that’s really the British way. 

MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis, who hosted the show with Susanna Reid, said mass refusal to pay bills would cause problems for energy companies

Stephen Fitzpatrick (pictured), the chief executive of energy company OVO, also described the coming months as ‘a winter like no other’

Liz Truss, expected to be announced as new Prime Minister this lunchtime, is said to be mulling a £100billion package to freeze energy bills

Liz Truss is mulling a £100billion package to freeze energy bills as she braces to be named the UK’s next PM.

With the results of the Tory leadership contest due at lunchtime, Ms Truss has vowed ‘immediate’ action to ease the pressure on struggling families.

The plan emerged as wholesale gas prices soared again this morning, by around 30 per cent, following Russia’s decision to shut down a key gas pipeline.

Chancellor-in-waiting Kwasi Kwarteng has already been scrambling to reassure markets that although government borrowing will be ‘looser’ it will remain ‘responsible’. Ms Truss has also promised a wave of tax cuts aimed at boosting economic growth.

Ms Truss told the BBC yesterday that she will reveal fresh supports for struggling households within a week, but refused to spell out details.

‘Before you have been elected as prime minister, you don’t have all the wherewithal to get the things done,’ she told the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme.

‘This is why it will take a week to sort out the precise plans and make sure we are able to announce them. That is why I cannot go into details at this stage. It would be wrong.’  

‘And I think that we all know that sooner or later somebody has to pay for this. And for those people that don’t pay their bills, it puts the price up for everybody else. 

‘And I think in this country, you know, I’m sure we can all agree, we believe in buying our round You know, when it’s your turn to pay for a round of drinks, you buy your round.

‘We all know that people that this winter that will not be able to afford to pay. And we need to support those people. Energy companies need to support them. 

‘The Government needs to support them. But it can’t be the case that we just say we’re not going to pay.’

Mr Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert, said such a ‘huge mass movement’ would cause problems for energy companies.

He said: ‘What’s interesting is people keep asking me what happens if people don’t pay? 

‘And my view is if it were to be a huge mass movement, one of the options you’d have if people choose not to pay as opposed to are struggling and can’t pay is you’d move people to prepayment meters. 

‘But you couldn’t do a million prepayment meters in the winter as an energy industry. So we are in unprecedented times if that were to happen, aren’t we?’

Mr Fitzpatrick replied: ‘We certainly are. And it’s the last thing that any company wants to be in this position where we’re contemplating what you’re describing, but I would say, you know, for years now we’ve had voluntary codes of conduct within the energy sector. 

‘I know people are worried about getting disconnected. That’s something that just doesn’t happen. Energy companies just don’t disconnect customers during the winter.’

Mr Lewis, who hosted the show with Susanna Reid, also spoke with Oasis Academy boss Steve Chalke.

Mr Chalke described ho energy bills for the schools he oversees have jumped  from £3 million to £10 million.

He has warned that there would be further cutbacks and sacrifices to an already pared back education system to try and cover the costs.

The school boss added: ‘We’re not going to give up on this. We’re going to keep going. 

‘The cost is the cost whether it’s ridicule or trouble, we will bear that because we’ve got to stay open.’

It comes as wholesale gas prices soared again this morning, up around 30 per cent, as markets reopened following Russia’s decision to block the reopening of the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe.

British energy firms brace for ANOTHER big spike in wholesale gas prices of up to 50 PER CENT today

British energy producers are bracing for a huge rise in wholesale prices as governments across Europe rushed to announce a raft of measures to relieve the pressure on households.

It comes amid grim predictions gas prices could surge by as much as 50 per cent today after a last-minute decision by Russia’s state-backed energy firm Gazprom to block the reopening of a key pipeline to Europe.

Nord Stream 1 is the biggest gas link from Russia to Europe, supplying around 55billion cubic metres per year.

While the UK receives only 4 per cent of its gas from Nord Stream 1, other countries such as Germany are much more reliant on the pipeline, meaning its closure is expected to cause prices to spike on international energy markets.

The move has raised fears factories could be forced to adopt a four-day working week to conserve energy. 

State-backed Gazprom was due to reopen the supply pipeline on Saturday after planned ‘maintenance’ works left it out of action for three days.

But Russia has kept it offline, citing an ‘oil leak’, after the G7 countries agreed an oil price cap on Russian energy in further sanctions on the country.

Nord Stream 1 is the biggest gas link from Russia to Europe, supplying around 55billion cubic metres per year.

While the UK receives only 4 per cent of its gas from Nord Stream 1, other countries such as Germany are much more reliant on the pipeline, meaning its closure is causing prices to spike on international energy markets.

The move has raised fears factories could be forced to adopt a four-day working week to conserve energy. No date has yet been set for when Nord Stream 1 will be reopened.

It comes as Liz Truss, widely expected to be announced as new Prime Minister this lunchtime, is said to be mulling a £100billion package to freeze energy bills.

Ms Truss has vowed ‘immediate’ action to ease the pressure on struggling families.

Speculation is mounting that she will opt for a bold furlough-style move – possibly by loaning companies money to hold down costs.

Ms Truss told the BBC yesterday that she will reveal fresh supports for struggling households within a week, but refused to spell out details.

‘Before you have been elected as prime minister, you don’t have all the wherewithal to get the things done,’ she told the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme. 

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline pictured in the coastal area of Lubmin, Germany

‘This is why it will take a week to sort out the precise plans and make sure we are able to announce them. That is why I cannot go into details at this stage. It would be wrong.’

Chancellor-in-waiting Kwasi Kwarteng has already been scrambling to reassure markets that although government borrowing will be ‘looser’ it will remain ‘responsible’. Ms Truss has also promised a wave of tax cuts aimed at boosting economic growth.

Meanwhile, experts have told MailOnline there is ‘no escape’ for the 66million people in the UK who will be encouraged to cut their use of gas and electricity this winter and even turn off the lights when the wind drops.

At home people may be encouraged not to use washing machines, dishwashers and ovens between 2pm and 8pm while charging cars before 9pm is also not advised when similar measures were imposed in the US this year. Abandoning the family weekday dinner at 6pm or the Sunday roast at 5pm may be required and moved to after 8pm or swapped for a cold dinner or leftovers.

The NHS Confederation has predicted that the solution for the health service will ‘have to be made up by fewer staff being employed, longer waiting times for care, or other areas of patient care being cut back’. NHS England guidance says staff must turning off equipment and lights and better control temperatures in hospitals and surgeries.

Schools have even discussed three-day weeks and classes could be combined to reduce the number of rooms that require heating each day.

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