April fuel's day: Brits struggle with cost of living as energy costs rise by £700 today

1 April 2022, 11:27 | Updated: 1 April 2022, 11:49

Households face paying at least £700 more a year on energy from today
Households face paying at least £700 more a year on energy from today. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Hard-pressed households face paying at least £700 more a year on energy from today, as struggling Brits hold back tears rather than laughs this April Fool's day.

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Experts have issued stark warnings that people in the UK will starve, freeze and could consider suicide as they desperately struggle to pay soaring energy bills from this month.

Today Ofgem raised the price cap of gas and electricity, seeing it soar by 54 per cent this morning to £1,971 for an average home to compared to £1,277 yesterday.

Experts predict it will be around £2,700-a-year from October.

The huge jump in price sparked the founder of energy company Utilita, Bill Bullen, to urge households to cut their energy usage and behaviour by layering up and insulating their homes.

The energy boss warned the elderly and vulnerable face death whilst he fears "next winter it will be much much worse" and also "much worse for children".

Mr Bullen also feared households may resort to dangerous attempts to heat their homes warning: "No matter how much you are struggling, do not use BBQs or open fires in your home. Apart from the fire risk there is a carbon monoxide problem."

Read more: Cost of living crisis: Brits wake up to soaring energy bills as MPs get £2k pay rise

It comes as a think-tank specialising in living standards warned that the price hike would push 2.5 million families in England alone into so-called "fuel stress" as people face paying more for energy than their mortgage.

But the price hike is not limited to energy, as broadband, mobile, water bills, council tax and national insurance contributions are also rising this month.

Energy supplier websites crashed yesterday as thousands of customers rushed to submit meter readings for the cheaper energy rate with many staying up late into the night and others giving up.

Social media users said this morning smart meters showed that prices were up £1.30-per-hour overnight, whilst others said their monthly direct debits went from £90-a-month to £200-plus.

Read more: Minister switches heating off at home after feeling price hike rises 'very significantly'

Nicky Jackson from Burnley, Lancashire told LBC she had to call the crisis team for support because it’s made her mental health so much worse.

"With all this it has made it so much worse. I mean I am already signed off of work completely. Not that Long ago I had to contact the crisis team just to have a conversation," she said.

Ms Jackson added that she struggles to buy nappies for her children each week amid the hike in costs and has relied heavily on food banks for baby formula.

Whislt Sajid Mohammed, who runs Himmah Foodbank in Nottingham, said they have seen a steady rise in numbers of people coming to them for help since Christmas.

But added that they are now seeing people refuse some foods, such as potatoes because they can't afford to cook or store them.

Even a Government minister has said his household is facing a "tricky" time during the cost-of-living crisis, with his home central heating running on oil.

Kit Malthouse, who conducted broadcast interviews with a fire on in the background, told LBC: "Obviously the day-to-day is quite tricky.

"As you know, I've got children. They need to be fed and that cost is rising.

"My fuel prices are rising quite significantly, and I have to say that in my constituency I'm on oil central heating still, sadly."

The Conservative MP for North West Hampshire continued: "Oil, I'm afraid to tell you, doesn't come under the energy price cap, and lots of people in rural areas are suffering from the oil price rise.

"So we are feeling it very significantly. I have to confess to you, we did convert last year to electric vehicles, so we are feeling the electric price but not through the petrol. So it is a challenge for everybody."

Crime and policing minister Mr Malthouse said that he had attempted to log onto his energy app on Thursday night as millions looked to log meter readings before the energy cap price rise came into effect, and it "wasn't working either".

Speaking on Wednesday ahead of the new price cap rise, money saving expert Martin Lewis said: "I didn't think it was going to be anywhere near as bad as this. I thought it was just going to be bad, I didn't think it would be catastrophic."

Whilst Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: "The energy price cap rise will be potentially ruinous for millions of people across the country.

"The support announced so far from the Government simply isn't enough for those who'll be hit hardest.

"With the long-anticipated price rises now hitting, many more people will face the kind of heart-rending choices that our frontline advisers already see all too often."

Mr Sunak, in his spring statement, kept the criticised 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance contributions but said the threshold will rise by £3,000.

He also announced a cut to fuel duty in his spring statement.

In previously announced measures, households will get £200 knocked off their energy bills in October, but will need to pay that back at a rate of £40 over five years from 2023.

The Government also claims that 2.5 million people will benefit from the national living wage rise from Friday, with adults now earning £9.50 under the scheme.

However, with Mr Sunak getting heckled with a cry of "is that it" in the Commons when announcing a tranche of measures, members of his own party have suggested he will need to offer more.