British households and businesses are preparing for an onslaught of price rises during April, after the government ended its relief scheme for energy bills, fueling the worsening impact of the cost-of-living crisis on people’s lives.
Millions of Britons are set to face increased costs on a number of items and services from Saturday, including their council tax, water bills, mobile and broadband, while businesses face unprecedented hikes in their gas and electricity bills.
The government is putting up council tax by 5 percent from the 1st of April, meaning those living in a band D home will have to pay an extra tax of £100 each year.
The average water bill is set to rise by 7.5 percent, while broadband and mobile phone prices are due to go up by about 17 percent.
“Millions of people will now have to stomach inflation-busting price hikes on their mobile and broadband contracts, totaling an average of £90 more a year,” said Matthew Upton, director of policy at Citizens Advice.
“We called on these firms to support their customers during this uniquely challenging time, but they didn’t listen. Ofcom should be holding these companies to account,” Upton said.
Going through the NHS, prescription charges in England are set to rise by 30 percent from April, taking fees to £9.65 per item.
Following close behind the increases will be higher costs of food and commodities across the country.
Mortgage payments will also rise for borrowers after the Bank of England (BoE) raised borrowing rates to a 14-year high of 4.25 percent.
Considering all the increases in total, a typical British family will be £682 a year worse off, according to the household finances app Nous.
British founder, entrepreneur, and chief executive, Greg Marsh, depicted the economic situation in the UK as “worrying” and said that the crisis is pushing millions of families “over the edge”.
“We are not just talking about those on lower incomes. Even dual-income families with above-average earnings will now be drawn into the struggle to afford to live,” Marsh warned.
Adding to the current pressure on people, the government has announced its new plan to end the Energy Price Guarantee scheme, which will withdraw the government’s financial support for energy bills.
Peter McClenaghan, Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability, at the Consumer Council said that “from 1 April, the government is withdrawing the additional Energy Price Guarantee support local consumers have been receiving.”
“This means that some consumers' bills will not reduce as much as initially advertised and some bills will increase when the updated Energy Price Guarantee rate is applied,” he explained.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) criticized the government’s cut of support in the middle of the economic turmoil.
Alex Veitch, director of policy and public affairs at the BCC, said: “Almost half of the firms say paying bills will be difficult from 1 April onwards, but of the seven energy policies we advocated for the government to include in the spring Budget, not one was acted upon.”
“Flexibility to increase support for those who desperately need it – ignored. Easing the burden of claiming VAT on energy – ignored. Funding for improved business energy efficiency – ignored,” he complained.
The UK economy has been grappling with record-high inflation during recent months, with many workforces launching strikes and protests as they can’t match their wages with skyrocketing inflation.
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