The energy minister faced a rebuke from the public on national television about the government’s £200 energy discount to help stem rising household bills.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak in February announced £200 would be knocked off energy bills for all households – but the scheme has been criticized as the money has to eventually be repaid over several years.
On Thursday’s Question Time, Conservative MP Greg Hands was asked about the government’s plans for ‘green’ energy, and it took the chance to outline the steps minsters were taking to help people deal with the cost of living crisis.
After explaining the £200 discount on energy bills was part of a wider package, presenter Fiona Bruce interrupted by saying: ”£200 is of course a loan.”
Hands: “It is not a loan, it is a discount which is taken back in the form of a levy.”
Bruce: “You are not being given it, you have to pay it back.”
Hands: “No, not necessarily. It is given to the individual and it is taken back at the point at which it is levied.”
Bruce then turned to a noisy audience to ask: “Sorry, you are all shouting, what are you all shouting?”
They yelled back: “It’s a loan.”
There was repeated laughter as Hands continued with his justification that it was “put on the price point, not the individual”.
Earlier on Thursday, Sunak was accused of blocking government plans to cut energy bills by £500.
According to leaked documents seen by the i newspaper, a draft of the energy security strategy included a measure to increase the existing £200 rebate on gas and electricity charges to “£500 or more”.