Rishi Sunak announces energy bill discounts of £400 for UK
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Those on low incomes are sharing how “anxious” they are as households are expected to fork out more cash to pay for essential utilities and bills. Last week, inflation hit a 40-year high of nine percent with experts predicting it could reach as high as ten percent soon. On top of this, households are in the midst of their energy bills going up by £693 a year on average with industry regulator Ofgem forecasting that prices could reach £2,800 for the year by October.
In response to this, organisations such as Age UK are calling for more targeted support for those of state pension age, who are more likely to struggle in the coming months.
A recent survey by the charity of over 36,000 older campaigners found the majority were worried about the cost of living.
In response, Age UK is calling on the Government to hike benefit payments and the state pension by the rate of inflation.
Both were recently increased by 3.1 percent in line with last year’s inflation figures, and the triple lock pledge on state pensions has been temporarily suspended which has further undercut the amount pensioners can claim.
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Earlier this week, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak rolled out a new wave of financial support packages to mitigate the impact of soaring inflation and energy bills.
Those in receipt of means-tested benefit payments, such as Universal Credit, will be eligible for a one-off cost of living payment worth £650.
Furthermore, pensioners are set to automatically receive a payment designed just for them which will come to £350.
On top of this, the Government announced a universal discount on energy bills worth £400 which will replace the “buy now, pay later” loan introduced earlier in the year.
This support cannot come soon enough for some older households who are detailing the dire financial situations with Age UK.
Speaking to the charity, one pensioner said: “I have turned the heat off altogether. Eat just one meal daily.
“Not complaining as I have learnt in childhood to wear extra layers, cook and eat as my mum taught us in war years.
“For entertainment I now visit the park and listen to radio. I cope, but how dreadful that we have gone so far back in living standards in modern Britain.”
On how the inflation and energy bill hikes are affecting her, a woman named Pauline added: “It is affecting me probably more than many because I am a single pensioner.
“I have to heat a house, run a car (as I live off a bus route), buy food, heat my home, all done on a single pension, with a little extra from a [personal pension].
“There isn’t enough money to live. I cut back on heating and make meals that last 2-3 days and hardly use my car.
“Prices have gone up but in comparison the state pension hasn’t kept up with inflation. The triple lock was taken away.”
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, explained: “Talking to older people who rely on their State Pension certainly brings home just how serious the situation is for them.
“It comes to something when you hear a woman in her seventies describe how she is adopting strategies learned from her own parents’ experience during World War Two, to stay solvent in 2022.
“Older people aren’t stupid and they realise that if they are struggling to keep their heads above water as things stand, the chances are they’ll slip under altogether in a few months’ time.
“This makes it a horrible time for them, as they see their modest expectation of living decently in retirement slipping out of reach, certainly temporarily, possibly forever.”
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