Cost of living crisis: North East families urged to seek support with bills following energy price hike
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Households across the country are set for the biggest increase in energy bills in living memory from April, after the 54% increase to energy regulator Ofgem’s price cap comes into effect.
The impending hike has caused chaos for utilities firms, with reports of websites crashing as customers rush to register final meter readings in a bid to prevent companies estimating their usage and potentially upping charges.
But while few look set to avoid paying more over the coming months, there are still measures which could ease the financial burden on those most likely to struggle.
“Advice services are probably going to be overwhelmed by people seeking support,” said Amanda Bailey, director of the North East Child Poverty Commission.
"But it’s important people are receiving everything they’re entitled to, which is not always the case.
“People shouldn’t feel they can’t ask for help.
“There is support available and I would strongly advise going to trusted advice services, such as Citizens’ Advice Bureau, to do that check, particularly families with children, and they can also provide advice on energy-saving measures.”
Bailey has urged ministers to restore the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit payments, introduced by in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic but scrapped in October last year.
She also called for welfare payments to keep pace with inflation as a “bare minimum to ensure families can keep their heads above water”.
Ahead of the energy price cap rise, the Government has insisted it is “in no doubt” that rising energy prices “will be a significant challenge for a majority of the British public”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was slammed over a lack of measures in last week’s Spring Statement ‘mini budget’, has said he is “confident in what we’ve done” to address the rising cost of living.
In an interview with the BBC, the Chancellor said: “We’re facing a very difficult situation with the price of things going up and I want to do what we can to ameliorate some of that, but I’m also honest with people that we can’t ameliorate all of it, sadly.”