Local authorities can use discretionary funding to help low-income households who do not live in council tax bands A-D or those who are exempt from council tax payments, Sunak told MPs.
Speaking in parliament, Labour MP Meg Hillier called him “the Klarna chancellor” in response to plans to give households repayable loans.
The price cap means soaring wholesale energy prices which could not be passed onto customers. At least 25 UK suppliers have folded while Bulb remains in a state of de facto nationalisation.
“The skyrocketing price of gas will now push people into precarious financial positions, and spells disaster for those already struggling to meet the rising cost of heating their home,” said Connor Schwartz, climate lead at Friends of the Earth. “The government must announce sufficient support for anyone already finding it hard, or who are at imminent risk, from these hikes.
“This is on the same day that Shell’s highest quarterly profits in eight years is announced. Fossil fuel companies are raking it in while people are choosing between food and heating, so the question again has to be asked: why isn’t there a windfall tax on these companies?
“We need to address the root cause and that means ending the cause of the crisis: reliance on gas. Make no mistake, this will be a year-on-year problem unless the government is radical now. The best time to invest in renewables and roll out a huge home insulation programme was 20 years ago, the government didn’t do it then, the next best time is right now.”
The 54 per cent rise in the energy price cap far exceeds the last change, made in October last year, which increased it by 12 per cent. Inflation hit a 30-year high in December.
“Cost of living pressures are at boiling point,” saidClare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice. “April’s price hikes haven’t yet hit and already people are turning to our services in record numbers.
“Frontline advisers are hearing desperate stories of families living in just one room to keep warm, people turning off their fridges to save money and others relying on hot water bottles instead of heating due to fears about mounting bills.”
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Joe Malinowski, founder of energy price comparison website The Energy Shop, said the energy price cap has “already bankrupted over half of all energy suppliers in the market”.
“Now it is set to bankrupt the consumer,” he added. “Come April 1, energy households up and down the country are set to get battered by colossal increases in energy bills. For many, if not most, it will be simply unaffordable.”