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Energy supplier websites struggle with a deluge of traffic on “gloomy Friday” as the greatest gas and electricity price hike in living memory takes effect on the same day as the planned hikes in taxes and household services.
Customers in the UK looking for a cheaper energy bill were advised to submit meter readings online ahead of Friday’s 54% rise as the average annual bill rises to £1,971, putting unprecedented pressure on consumers. suppliers’ websites.
British Gas, one of the UK’s largest suppliers, showed an error message on the meter reading page on Friday morning, while E.ON and EDF also suffered power outages.
Households will face multiple price hikes from April 1, from council tax and VAT on pints of beer to broadband and phone bills, all contributing to the cost of living crisis, with inflation expected to hit its 40-year high this year. .
As snow and hail fell across the UK this week, families and retirees talked about turning off the heating and cutting broadband to pay for rising food costs.
However, those with prepayment meters who no longer use them will still find themselves incurring gas and electricity bills due to the rising weekly fixed costs of up to £6.15despite there being no power for heating, light or cooking.
The Resolution Foundation think tank said the number of “fuel stressed” households in England had doubled overnight, from 2.5 million to 5 million.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) called for an emergency budget to help working families who were at a “breaking point” as Citizens Advice estimated that about 5 million people could lose their energy bills as of this month.
The TUC said the measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in last week’s spring statement were “satisfyingly inadequate” as British households experienced the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s.
“People shouldn’t be struggling to cover basic needs, but millions of families have been pushed to the breaking point by rising bills and rising inflation,” said Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC.
“This is a standard of living emergency. Rishi Sunak must come to parliament and present an emergency budget. We need a good package of economic support for families. Britain is facing its worst standard of living crisis in generations. We need an emergency budget to cut energy bills and increase wages, universal credit and pensions.”
Energy bills would rise 10 times faster than wages this year, the TUC said, as it joined the Labor party calling for a windfall tax on the billions of profits oil and gas companies have made to support the proposed bailout package. Pay.
“People don’t want a revolution, they want to know how to pay their energy bills,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said in an interview Friday morning.
Citizens Advice warned that the number of people unable to pay their energy bills could rise to one in four in the UK, more than 14 million, if the energy ceiling rises by the amount forecast in October.
Experts have said the war in Ukraine could push annual bills to £3,000 in the next price cap decision.
“We understand that people are grappling with the rising cost of living – we can’t protect everyone from the global challenges we face, but we are putting billions of pounds back in the pockets of hard-working families in the UK,” a government spokesman said.
“We are taking action worth more than £22 billion in the next financial year to help people with the cost of their energy bills and ensure people keep more of their money.”