Energy price rise to push poverty deaths ‘through the roof’
Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE), is asking customers to cut their energy consumption as cold weather drives up demand when about half the France’s nuclear reactors are offline. The electricity operator has asked people to avoid using dishwashers and washing machines between 7am and 10am on Monday.
It is calling on people to hold off using these appliances until the weekend, to turn down their home thermostats when out, to switch off devices instead of leaving them on standby and using fewer lights per room.
RTE claimed that if every French person switched off a light, it would save 600 megawatts, which is approximately equivalent to the consumption of France’s fourth-largest city, Toulouse.
French President Emmanuel Macron acted swiftly in the face of rising energy prices, forcing state energy giant EDF to take a £7billion (€8.4billion) hit and limit energy bill hikes to four percent this year.
The company has also been ordered to sell more nuclear power to rivals at below current market rates.
A French energy company is urging customers not to use their dishwashers
A sign on the front of a truck reading ‘Too Many Taxes = Companies at Risk’ at a fuel protest
In Germany, the Government has announced plans to scrap a surcharge on electricity bills used to support renewable power.
This would see a cut to a green surcharge, which appears on home energy bills, from 6.5 percent per kilowatt-hour down to 3.7 cents.
Berlin is also putting £109million (€130million) in subsidies for lower income households.
In Britain, bills are set to rocket by a whopping 54 percent — almost £700 — to just under £2,000-a-year.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street ahead of the weekly Prime Ministers Questions
National Insurance contributions are set to rise by 1.25 percentage points.
Bill Bullen, managing director of energy company Utilita, warned families in the UK struggling to pay energy bills not to use barbecues indoors to heat their homes.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I urge everybody, no matter how much you’re suffering with your bills, please do not resort to using barbecues or open fires at home. Quite apart from the fire risk there’s also a carbon monoxide risk.”
The Government has announced some support for struggling households, with the Warm Homes Discount — a one-off £140 discount — set to be expanded so three million people can benefit from the scheme.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for his slow response to the crisis with most measures only being announced in recent weeks despite months of warnings about the imminent spike in costs.
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The highest UK energy bills
Some measures have proven to be controversial with many viewing the rebate as a forced loan.
A Government spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with the rising cost of living – we can’t shield everyone from these global challenges but are taking action worth over £22 billion this financial year to help.
“We’re increasing national insurance thresholds and cutting the Universal Credit taper rate to help people keep more of what they earn, increasing the national living wage, and providing a £9 billion package of support with energy bills – and we continue to provide loans for those on low incomes to help pay their mortgage interest.
“We are also investing over £12 billion in affordable housing to help young people and families onto the property ladder and our new First Homes scheme will provide homes at a discount of at least 30 percent for first-time buyers.”
But there are warnings people will be living on the streets as energy bills skyrocket thanks to the 54 percent increase to Ofgem’s price cap and worsening cost-of-living crisis.
New figures suggest almost half of adults were struggling to pay their energy bills before the biggest jump in prices in living memory came into effect this week.
Activists from Just Stop Oil shut down the Gray’s Inter Terminals by boarding fuel haulage vehicles
Joanne Stubbs, an admin of the Energy Support And Advice UK Facebook group which has more than 37,000 members, accused the Government of not doing enough to tackle the problem.
She said: “It needs to be emphasised that people are going without… People are not eating for days.
“Children’s only meals are those at school and for those who have working parents, who do not receive any help money wise, go without full stop.
“The Government is so out of touch with reality and feel this is a minority, it’s not.
Octopus Energy’s boss Greg Jackson pledged the company will help people struggling to pay their bills, warning energy prices could soar even higher.
Mr Jackson said there is no hiding the fact that energy costs have risen dramatically as he acknowledged the cost-of-living crisis is “very real”.
He said the sad reality is that many people lost their jobs during the pandemic and went from being able to pay their bills to finding them unaffordable.
Mr Jackson told LBC: “Where people do their very best, companies like ours will work with them to get payment plans in place, to provide some assistance, to work with them on their whole income and expenditure.”
He said there are also people who can pay but choose not to, adding that a different approach has to be taken in that scenario.
Octopus Energy’s boss went on to warn energy prices could rise even further in the winter, adding: “Global energy prices is one of the most volatile markets and so it’s a fool who will make a strong prediction.
“But what we do know is that the next energy price cap period is being set by the prices we’re seeing now, because there’s a sort of lag in the system.
“So, unless there’s a very rapid fall in the global prices, energy costs for people in the UK will stay high over the winter. They could even be higher. We just don’t know.”