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British families living in poverty ‘hit harder by gas and electricity bills’, New data shows

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Sections of gas pipeline are seen next to a disused gas holder in Manchester, Britain, September 23, 2021. (Reuters photo)

Poorer British families are reportedly paying as much as 50 percent more on their energy bills than richer households, according to data analyzed by the Labour Party.

According to the figures, the UK’s poorest 10 percent of households pay £756 on average a year per person for electricity, gas and other fuels, while that for the richest families is £504 on average per person. The national average is £530.

In addition, those living in poverty pay a great deal higher proportion of their household budget on energy bills, with the poorest families spend nearly seven times as much of their funds on energy as the wealthiest households, and three-and-a-half times the national average, revealed the figures.

Following the publication of the figures on Sunday night, Wes Streeting, shadow child poverty secretary, accused Boris Johnson’s government of “leaving working families to pay the price for the chaos in our energy sector”.

“Boris Johnson ought to be getting a grip on the cost-of-living crisis, but instead he’s making it worse with his jobs tax and the £1,000-a-year cut to Universal Credit,” he said.

This comes as there are increasing concerns over the bad impacts of scrapping the £20 Universal Credit uplift on poor families in the country.

The temporary increase was brought in last year to help during the Covid-19 pandemic but was controversially stopped earlier this month.

The figures were published amid a deteriorating energy crisis in the country. Utility bills in the UK went up earlier this month as a price cap on the most widely used tariffs rose by around 12%.

As of 1 October, the cap on what energy firms could charge families for their monthly consumption increased by £139 for people on default tariffs and £153 for people on pre-payment meters. As a result, millions face higher bills per month.

Talking up the party’s proposals to curb the impact of the UK’s energy crisis on its poorest households, Streeting said Labour were demanding ministers “urgently cut VAT on domestic energy bills for six months, to help people through this winter”.

He also said his party’s plan to “insulate millions of homes would ease the pressure on households, making bills cheaper and homes warmer.”

Keith Anderson, the chief executive of Scottish Power, told the Financial Times Thursday that without government and regulatory intervention, the UK is “in danger of just sleepwalking into an absolute massacre.”

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