Ofgem, the energy regulator, has confirmed that gas and electricity bills for millions of households in Scotland and the rest of the UK will increase by £693 from 1 April 2022.
The increase will see the average home energy bill rise 54 per cent to £1,971 a year and may rise further in October after it does its next review in six months.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will make an announcement in Parliament around noon and lead a press conference at 5:00 pm from Downing Street outlining his plans to help people cope with the surge. It is widely reported that Mr Sunak will commit to giving households in council tax bands A to C UK government grant-funded rebates under specific measures for those with lower incomes or benefits.
Ofgem’s official announcement states that the maximum energy price for average annual consumption at standard rates will increase by £693 to £1,971 per year, while households with prepaid energy meters will see an increase of £708 sterling up to 2,017 pounds sterling.
UK Government Secretary James Cleverly said some people are “always going to have problems” with the bills.
He told Sky News: “The Chancellor will set out how we are going to support people who are struggling to pay the bills: keeping people employed, making sure they have money in their pockets through their pay packets, making sure that with things like reducing Universal Credit and increasing the Living Wage, we’re making sure people can earn more to help offset that.
“But we are also having, in parallel, specific measures to help people with their energy bills.”
Mr Cleverly added: “For some people, they are always going to struggle, we are very, very aware of that.
“But we really hope that the combination of general financial support – keeping people in work, making sure work pays, supporting people on the lowest incomes – and very specific measures specifically on energy costs will ensure which, we hope, most of the people who are concerned about fuel bills get support”.
Commenting on the increase, Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “This sharp increase will be a devastating blow to many households in Scotland.
“It will cause deep anxiety and financial worries, leaving many people faced with the stark choice of getting warm or eating.
“But Scots don’t have to fight alone: all Scots have access to free, unbiased, practical advice through our energyadvice.scot service.
“And charities and organizations in Scotland that provide debt, money or energy advice can register with homeheatingadvice.scot as a ‘referral partner’ to access a £3 million Scottish Government fund for those experiencing shortages. of fuel or ration their energy consumption”.
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “This shocking increase is a hammer blow to consumers. One in three of us already find bills unaffordable and shamefully nearly half a million people in Scotland have had to cut back on food to cope with unaffordable bills.
“This is simply not a sustainable position for people. April will be a nightmare scenario as rising bills and prices in shops collide with stagnant or falling incomes, creating a perfect storm that could drag millions of people across the UK into poverty, debt and indigence. No one should be forced to make the heartbreaking choice between keeping their homes warm or feeding their families.
“We need immediate direct interventions. To be clear, we are looking to the UK government to step in to limit the damage these unprecedented bill increases will cause. We also need a long-term plan to keep bills down.”
James Taylor, executive director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said: “The huge increase in the maximum price will be catastrophic for many disabled people who are already forced to spend a large amount of their income on costs. of energy. Finding an extra £700 will be difficult if not impossible for many.
“Spiraling costs of living and energy are already hitting disabled people the hardest. Scope’s research shows that half of disabled people whose household bills have increased in the last three months have seen their health and mental health worsen.”
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He continued: “Scope’s energy hotline and website have been inundated with disabled people facing impossible decisions, with nowhere else to turn.
“We need to go much further than refunds. we urgently need [UK] Government support targeted at disabled people who are bearing the brunt of this cost of living crisis.”
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