Rishi Sunak slammed by poverty activists for playing ‘Russian roulette with loans’ over rising energy bills

The £693 rise in energy bills in April will be a ‘hammer blow’ for Scottish households, consumer campaigners and politicians have warned.

Ofgem’s price cap announcement will see the average household’s energy bill rise by almost £700 a year after a 54% increase in the maximum that power companies can charge.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a package of emergency measures for households to offset the steep rises, including £200 bill rebates in the form of loans to electricity companies which will be repaid by consumers at 40 £ per year for the next five years.

A decision to cut household spending by giving rebates on council tax bills in England will mean £290m of extra funding for the Scottish government to decide how to use.

But the emergency money will not touch the sides of families facing inflation forecasts of 7.5% and rising interest rates, as well as National Insurance increases and cuts. benefit reductions.

Derek Mitchell, Managing Director of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “This tantalizing increase is a hammer blow for consumers. One in three of us already find the bills unaffordable and, shamefully, almost half a million people in Scotland have had to cut back on their diet to cope with the unaffordable bills.

He added: “We need immediate direct interventions. . We also need a long-term plan to reduce bills.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress has said Scotland already has some of the highest levels of energy poverty in Europe and will be disproportionately affected.

STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said: “The proposed £200 rebate falls far short of solving the problem. This situation is set to worsen while the British government remains inactive. It’s just shameful that people have to choose between food and heat.”

Peter Kelly, Director of the Alliance Against Poverty, said: “All levels of government have a moral responsibility to protect households that are reaching breaking point, but the measures Rishi Sunak announced today are not to the height of this responsibility”.

“The UK Government’s response should be at the heart of fixing our social security system so that it helps keep people afloat, increasing benefits by 6% in line with inflation and ending policies unfair like the benefit ceiling”

Kelly added: “We have the spectacle of energy companies reaping multi-billion profits while people across the country struggle to heat their homes. A windfall tax is the just and appropriate response to this most egregious injustice.”

In the Commons Labor Shadow, Chancellor Rachel Reeves said their windfall tax on oil companies would work better than the Chancellor’s proposed ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme.

She said: “High prices as far as the eye can see – this year, next year and the year after, give with one hand now and take it all later.”

“By lending billions of pounds to energy companies, the Chancellor is betting that prices will fall – but they could rise again in October. Then what ? Billions more loaded onto people’s bills? »

Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP Westminster, said: “This Tory scam is already playing out before the Chancellor has stopped talking.

“That pitiful £200 isn’t a discount at all – it’s a buy now, pay later loan. It beggars belief that the Conservatives are going to force people to pay it back.

Christine Jardine, Scottish Lib Dems MP, said: “These plans are playing Russian roulette with taxpayers’ money, betting prices will come down. Rather than providing a real solution to help families avoid sky-high bills .”

“It only delays the pain while raising taxes by £600 per household. Surely it’s time to admit he was wrong.”

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