The cost of turning on electricity, gas, or heating can overwhelm the household budgets of millions of Britons. Ofgem, the energy regulator, has announced a 54% increase in the price of standard tariffs from next April, the second in less than a year. The huge increase will affect some 22 million households who will face an average annual bill of €2,000 (€2,400), almost £693 more (€827) than they had been paying after the last increase in October of around €160. The Minister of Finance, Rishi Sunak, tried to reduce the effect of the blow with the announcement of aids and loans for those with lower incomes, in the face of the popular clamor for the unaffordability of the rise in the cost of living.

The government has measures “to alleviate the shock for millions of families” so that “the increase in prices will be lower initially and spread over a longer period,” Sunak told the House of Commons. There will be the possibility of obtaining a refund equivalent to 180 euros of local taxes for a good part of the households in April, which does not have to be repaid.

240 in the form of loans to be repaid, which will be automatically deducted from bills over the next five years. Local authorities will also have an extra budget for the most vulnerable. Despite these provisions, most families will have to fork out an extra 420 euros a year to pay their energy bills. People on lower incomes, who can barely cope with the charges anymore, will be the hardest hit. The escalation in the price of electricity and gas does not end here and next October another rise is expected.

Labour’s head of Finance, Rachel Reeves, believes that the proposal from Sunak and his team is not enough to help citizens. “What the government is offering is a buy now, pay later scheme that increases the amount tomorrow, meaning there will be higher prices.”

The cost of living is increasing day by day and it is the issue that is going to take the sleep away from the British people this year, in the face of the erosion of purchasing power. Inflation in 2021 was 5.4%. The increase in the energy bill coincides with the increase in the National Insurance contribution. The Bank of England on Thursday raised interest rates from 0.25% to 0.50%, which will affect a good number of mortgages. Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine accused the Government of “playing Russian roulette with taxpayers’ money, betting that prices will fall rather than providing a real solution to help families pay sky-high bills”.

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