THE boss of Scottish Power has called on the UK Government to support households facing soaring energy bills in a stark warning that millions could fall into fuel poverty this winter.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of the energy giant, said Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s package of support – including what amounts to a cash loan to struggling families – was “nowhere near” enough to combat the scale of the cost of living crisis.

He told the BBC: "We need to be realistic about the gravity of the situation - around 40% of UK households, potentially 10 million homes, could be in fuel poverty this winter.”

In an extraordinary intervention, the Scottish Power chief called on the Government to slash household bills by £1000 for tens of millions of households this October.

READ MORE: SNP call for emergency budget to combat the cost of living crisis

But he said Ofgem setting the price cap too low would pose risks for the energy market, including the collapse of suppliers or foreign firms exiting the UK market.

It comes after he told a committee of MPs to take action on the cost of living crisis in April.

Last month, households in England were given council tax relief of £150 – which would be translated into cash in Scotland – and homes across the UK will receive a £200 loan in October.

Under Sunak’s current plans, homes will need to repay the support being given by the Treasury by adding an extra £40 to their annual bills for five years beginning in April 2023.

Tackling the cost of bills head-on – rather than other plans floated by the Government, such as cutting fuel duty or reducing the frequency of MOTs – would ease cost of living pressures more effectively, said Anderson. 

And he warned failing to take action risks the collapse of more energy firms in Britain because people may fail to pay their bills.

Anderson added: "We need to find a way to help to those that need it in time for winter in a way that doesn't exacerbate the issues we've already seen in the industry with supplier failures and very real concerns about billpayers running up unsustainable debts."

In response to Anderson's calls, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told Capital Radio: "He made similar comments to me and to the Scottish Government when I chaired the Scottish energy advisory board a few weeks ago. 

“There is no doubt people are already struggling with bills but when we come to the autumn and the likelihood of a further increase in the price cap, that problems is going to be significantly and very seriously exacerbated.

“We’re going to have more and more people who simply cannot afford to turn on their heating and can’t afford to heat their homes and feed their children.”

She added: “It is a dire, very very serious state of affairs. The UK Government must step up and do more.”

Ofgem told the BBC it was “too soon” to predict the level of the price cap ahead of its formal announcement in October but said “exceptional circumstances” may be taken into account when setting the cap in future.