Slough Express

Energy bills to rise by hundreds of pounds

All areas: Hike in price could amplify people calling Citizens Advice

- By Adrian Williams adrianw@baylismedi­ @AdrianW_BM

Energy bills for the average household will rise by an average of £700 a year from April 1 – putting further pressure on those already struggling.

Regulator Ofgem said the energy price cap – the maximum amount energy companies can charge will rise again by around 50 per cent.

This reflects issues with wholesale gas prices, which have quadrupled in the last year.

The price cap increase follows another last October, when it rose by 12 per cent to £1,277.

Ofgem says it knows this much larger increase on the cap will be ‘extremely worrying’ for many, and customers should contact their supplier with any concerns.

Jeremy Sandell, CEO of Citizens Advice East Berkshire (CAEB) said this hike will exacerbate the already increased cases of more people calling the service over financial worries.

“We’re already seeing a lot of people coming to use with challenges paying their bills, versus their weekly shopping,” he said.

“There are foodbanks but there are no such things as gas or electricit­y banks.

“It’s normal that most companies will just move to the cap, which is going to put more people into problem debt.

“That’s very much happening in Maidenhead and Slough at the moment.”

Khalsa Aid in Slough has been providing food parcels and energy top-ups to help the most vulnerable in Slough and is looking to increase this offering.

However, as a small organisati­on, there is a limit to how much it can help.

Founder Ravi Singh said he has seen ‘homes left frozen and empty fridges’.

He describes helping a woman who was quite ill and out of gas and electric, as an example of the dire straits some Slough residents are in.

“This [increase] is going to hit people so hard,” he said.

“The vulnerable continue to suffer and unfortunat­ely some people will die.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said the Government is taking ‘direct action’ with an en- ergy bills rebate which will provide the majority of families with £350 of financial support.

People will receive this in two instalment­s – as a one-off discount on their council tax and as a rebate on energy bills in October, which will be repaid over five years.

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