Cost of living: Winter warning that more help needed from Rishi Sunak

·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak attends a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain May 24, 2022. Daniel Leal/Pool via REUTERS
MPs have been warned that more financial assistances may be needed in October as the cost of living continues to rise. (Reuters)

MPs have been warned Rishi Sunak may need to provide more support for Brits struggling with the cost-of-living crisis as the price of basic essentials continues to increase.

Rising inflation, spiralling energy prices, and tax hikes have left millions of households struggling as experts warn that the UK could fall into recession by the end of the year.

Energy bills are the driving factor of squeeze with the typical bill soaring by £693 to nearly £2,000 in April after Ofgem increased the energy price cap by 54%.

And in May, the energy watchdog warned the situation is set to get even worse and warned that the price cap is set to hit £2,800 a year in October.

Read more: Pensioner, 78, goes back to work due to cost of living crisis 10 years after retirement

After months of pressure from both within his own party and outside of it, the chancellor announced a package of broadly targeted measures late last month to help those struggling most with the crisis.

The interventions included:

  • £400 off energy bills for each household; as well as

  • £650 for households claiming benefits paid over two instalments in July and October;

  • £300 for all pensioner households; and

  • £150 for people claiming non-means tested benefits like personal independent payments (PIP).

However, head of economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Rebecca McDonald, told MPs in parliament on Wednesday that while the chancellor's support package is broadly well targeted it is likely more help will still be needed before the winter.

Ofgem predicts the energy price cap will rise to £2,800 in the winter of 2022.
Energy bills are set to soar again in October after Ofgem predicted the price cap will rise to £2,800 this winter. (Ofgem)
May 2022 inflation correct one
CPI inflation is at its highest level in 40 years. (ONS)

"The package he's already announced is going to offset most of the different costs across the next year," she said at a Treasury select committee.

"It will be hard during the winter for many families because they'll receive that second lump sum payment in October and that will need to tide them over until April.

"So it's definitely possible that there will be a need for extra support during the winter."

Read more: 'Rough justice': The people set to lose out from Rishi Sunak’s cost of living package

She also said, despite the chancellor's pledge to up-rate benefits with September's inflation in April, many Brits will struggle with rising bills in the meantime.

That could lead to people being plunged into even greater debt meaning it's "likely more help will be needed" for those most vulnerable.

"The longer there is a period of high inflation and higher costs, the more difficult [the financial stress] becomes - even if the extra costs have been offset," she said.

"So, even if this package prevents the extra costs making things worse, there'll still be an assessment later on in the year into how families are faring. Definitely, I think, during the winter there may be a call for further support and a need for that."

comm
Head of economics at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Rebecca McDonald told MPs those on low incomes are facing a difficult winter. (parliamentlive.tv)

Her remarks came as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warns that the UK is set to have the worst economic growth in the G20.

And in a sign of the worsening crisis domestically, petrol passed £2 a litre on Thursday — with the price of filling up the tank of the average family car hitting £100.

Read more: Buy now pay later shoppers risk debt spiral

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices which is why we have acted to protect the 8 million most vulnerable British families through at least £1,200 of direct payments this year with additional support for pensioners and those claiming disability benefits.

“Through our £37bn support package we are also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through a tax cut in July, allowing people on Universal Credit to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and cutting fuel duty by 5p saving a typical family £100.”

Watch: Full tank of petrol for typical family car hits £100

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting