TORY minister Andrew Bowie was left red-faced after a heated exchange with BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty over standing charges and the energy price cap.

The Nuclear and Networks Minister appeared on the BBC’s morning programme on Friday to talk up the news that the energy price cap is set to fall, with an average household’s bills dropping to £1923 from October for those who pay by direct debit.

But while Bowie, Tory MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, tried to push the “positive” news, Munchetty asked if he thought the Ofgem rate was affordable.

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Bowie was also asked what his message was to those who can’t afford to pay their energy bills.

"The standing charge has risen for gas and electricity, can you explain to people why that is the right way to go, if you believe it is so,” she asked the Scottish Tory MP.

Bowie replied: "That's obviously a matter for Ofgem, I think what we should be focusing on right now..."

Interrupting, the BBC presenter pressed: "But what do you think, because you are the Government in charge. What do you think about the standing charge rising?”

The National:

Bowie (above) said: "Look, I think the focus today should be on the fact that the price of energy is falling, that people's average energy bills are coming down.”

A visibly irritated Munchetty said: "Okay, my job is to ask questions on behalf of our viewers and to try to elicit an answer and I know many people are confused and upset about the standing charge as it is, paying for energy when some people simply turn the meters off, they just turn the supply off, because they can't afford to pay, yet they have to pay this fixed charge for infrastructure.

"The standing charges for gas and electricity have gone up, so I would like to ask you on behalf of those viewers, who are struggling, whether or not you think it is right that these standing charges have risen?"

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Bowie insisted that the focus should be on the fact that energy bills are coming down, that people will pay less for their energy bill than “they have been overall” and insisted it was an “incredibly positive thing”.

"The standing charge as it is is a matter for Ofgem, it's something the Government will be discussing and indeed the future of energy markets in the United Kingdom is something that we are reviewing,” he added.

“There's a call for evidence right now, but today is a positive day, the price cap has come down and I think that's what we should be focusing on. People are paying less for their energy bills than they have been for a considerable amount of time."

The National:

Munchetty pointed out that this drop will be “offset by the rise in standing charges”.

"No, it won't be offset by the rising standing charge, no Naga, energy bills are coming down on average by about £580 from its peak, that is in no way going to be offset by the very slight rise in the standing charge,” he said.

However, Munchetty pointed to a calculation made by The Resolution Foundation that households that consume less than four-fifths of typical gas and electricity consumption will see higher bills this winter, and the additional costs will be significant.

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Asked if the calculations were wrong, Bowie said he hadn’t seen them.

The Tory minister added that the price cap drop was a story the BBC should be covering in a “positive light”.

In February 2021 the Ofgem cap sat at £1138, before skyrocketing in October 2022 to £3549, capped at £2500 for the “typical” household by the UK Government’s energy price guarantee.