Half of Britain's Conservative voters back renationalising energy firms: Poll

Britons face energy bills which are set to jump 80 per cent to an average of 3,549 pounds (S$5,800) a year from October. PHOTO: NYTIMES

LONDON (REUTERS) - Around half the backers of Britain's governing Conservative Party support renationalising the country's energy industry, according to a survey published on Monday (Aug 29), as soaring energy prices put pressure on household budgets.

The government has been facing growing calls to do more to help Britons facing energy bills which are set to jump 80 per cent to an average of 3,549 pounds (S$5,800) a year from October as wholesale gas prices hit record highs.

The YouGov poll for the Times newspaper found 47 per cent of those who currently plan to vote Conservative at the next election favoured returning the energy companies to public ownership, with 28 per cent opposed and 25 per cent unsure.

Among those who voted for the Conservatives at the last election in 2019, 53 per cent backed renationalisation.

Britain's energy suppliers were privatised by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher more than 30 years ago.

While the opposition Labour Party has previously called for renationalisation, current leader Keir Starmer has said the money would be better spent directly reducing people's bills.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the frontrunner to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister in a contest due to run until Sept 5, has said she favours using tax cuts rather than direct payments to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.

The YouGov poll was conducted last Tuesday and Wednesday before the latest rise in energy bills was announced by the regulator.

It found 55 per cent of those questioned said they would need to turn down their heating or limit its use over the coming months.

The survey also showed that 21 per cent said they would not be able to heat their home "except on a very limited basis", and 5 per cent did not believe they could afford to heat their home at all.

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