Sunak has announced new measures to curb growing household bills. Here’s what you can expect.
The UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced a £15bn package of measures to assist UK households cope with inflation. These comprise discounts on energy bills and payments to needy households to help them deal with increased costs.
What has he to offer?
The Treasury had guaranteed a £400 discount on energy bills for every household. That is included in the package reported on Thursday but there will also be payments for households who are grappling majorly with large bills.
Households getting means-tested benefits will receive an extra cost of living payment of £650 – in two installments. Pensioners will be qualified to get a £300 payment and those who apply for disability benefits will collect £150.
These come in addition to the 150 council tax refund paid in April.
How will it be paid?
Those who claim benefits tied to these payments will receive the funds directly into their bank accounts, without having to ask for them.
The £650 will be given to those on universal credit and other means-tested benefits. The payments will be made in two installments, the first in July and the second later in the year – until now, the Treasury has said “autumn”. To collect the first one you need to have gotten — or begun a claim for – the benefits on or before 25 May.
It will be tax-free and not restricted by the benefit cap, which limits how much claimants can acquire.
The pensioner payment will be allocated to all those who get the winter fuel payment and will be paid all together – in November or December. To become eligible, they need to be exceeding the state pension age between 19 to 25 September 2022.
The disability payment will go to those who were given non-means-tested disability benefits – or had made a claim – as of 25 May. The funds will be disbursed in September 2022.
Can you receive more than one of these?
Yes. The Treasury states that it is likely that some individuals and households will be entitled to more than one of the special cost of living payments, along with qualifying for the energy bill discount.
For instance, a pensioner who is also claiming for attendance allowance can also obtain the £150 disability payment and the £300 pensioner payment. A pensioner asking for pension credit and attendance will also be eligible for the £650 support.
How will the energy bill discount work?
The government initially declared a £200 loan that would require to be repaid over five years. That idea has been dropped and replaced with a £400 discount or grant that will not need to be refunded.
In England, Wales, and Scotland, the funds will be credited to the accounts of customers who pay with cash, by direct debit, or a cheque. For those on prepayment meters, the money will be sent in vouchers or applied to the meter.
The Treasury says households in Northern Ireland, which is not under the same regulator, will receive similar aid.
Will this cover my rising bills?
Energy bills escalated last month, with the price cap for average household use climbing by 54%. With the Ukraine war increasing wholesale costs for gas, more trouble is expected later this year – on Tuesday the head of Ofgem, the energy regulator, said the cap was on course to rise to £2,800. That means an increase of nearly £1,500 over the year since October last year.
Whether you will receive help to cover your extra costs will be determined by how much you spend on energy – this will be influenced to some extent by how energy efficient your property is and how you pay for it.
A family who is entitled to the £650 payment will also get a £400 discount and, depending on their council tax band, may also have gotten the £150 refund last month. That adds up to £1,200, which does not reach the headline rise in average bills.
A pensioner who is eligible for all of the help available will collect just over £1,500.