Downing Street has faced widespread disbelief at the refusal of ministers to appear on TV and radio to answer questions about the increase in energy price cap.
Broadcasters and opposition parties criticised the TV and radio silence of ministers after it was confirmed at 7am on Friday that the price cap was increasing in line with predictions to £3,549.
Kate Garraway, one of the presenters of ITV’s Good Morning Britain, said: “Who we’re not hearing from so far this morning is the government themselves, and we would love you to come on and give us some guidance.
“I know there is a leadership election currently there, so there will be issues about who is actually going to be at the helm come the week, 10 days when that decision is made, but we would love to hear from you this morning, because there are a lot of people that want clarity.”
Labour said the ministerial no-show was a “dereliction of duty”, while presenters pleaded with members of the government to appear.
Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson, said it was “unconscionable” that no minister was prepared to discuss the energy price cap rise.
He tweeted: “The entire government skipping school because they forgot to do their homework. People are crying out for some leadership. They will not get it from the Conservatives.”
The Treasury issued a statement from Nadhim Zahawi, with the chancellor expected to speak to broadcasters at some point on Friday morning.
Zahawi, who could be replaced within days by the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, if Liz Truss emerges victorious in the Tory leadership contest, released a short statement in which he said “help is coming” from the government.
“I know the energy price cap announcement this morning will cause stress and anxiety for many people, but help is coming with £400 off energy bills for all, the second instalment of a £650 payment for vulnerable households, and £300 for all pensioners.
“While [the Russian president Vladimir] Putin is driving up energy prices in revenge for our support of Ukraine’s brave struggle for freedom, I am working flat out to develop options for further support.
“This will mean the incoming prime minister can hit the ground running and deliver support to those who need it most, as soon as possible.”
Boris Johnson, who will leave office in less than two weeks’ time, was also expected to speak to the media during a visit in Surrey later this morning.
The prime minister has indicated repeatedly that major fiscal decisions should be left to his successor, prompting accusations from opponents that the UK has a “zombie government” incapable of taking any decisions.
Truss, who is expected to replace Johnson, was also not on the airwaves on Friday morning. Instead, a campaign spokesperson said: “Today’s announcement will cause grave concern to many people across the UK who will be worried about paying their bills.
“As prime minister, Liz would ensure people get the support needed to get through these tough times. She will immediately take action to put more money back in people’s pockets by cutting taxes and suspending green energy tariffs.”
The apparent absence of government ministers prompted severe criticism from Labour.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, accused ministers of being nowhere to be seen on the morning of the Ofgem announcement.
She said people were “worried sick” about the cap rise, which is “striking fear in the hearts of families right across the country”, and called on the government to freeze energy bills and follow Labour’s proposals.
“The fact that no government minister is available to come on your programme today is just appalling. They are not here to give assurances; they are not here to set out what they are going to do. That is a dereliction of duty.”