Energy price cap: What support has Rishi Sunak announced to help with soaring bills?

Household bills will increase in April when the energy price cap rises by 54%.

At the same time National Insurance contributions will rise by 1.25%, putting struggling families under intense pressure.

Customers paying default tariffs by direct debit will see annual bills rise by £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 per year - while prepayment customers will see an increase of £708 from £1,309 to £2,017.

The Bank of England has also announced an interest rates increase from 0.25% to 5% and it has forecast inflation to hit a staggering 7¼% by April.

In a bid to help people deal with a forthcoming cost of living crisis, the chancellor has announced a package of support.

Rishi Sunak said it the help will give the "vast majority" of households £350 of support to remove the "sting" from rising energy crisis through council tax rebates and an upfront discount on bills.

The below support is for England only - devolved nations will be provided with £565 million help households.

Discount for domestic energy companies

The chancellor said all domestic energy customers will get an up front discount on their energy bills worth £200.

Energy providers will apply the discount on people's bills from October, with the government providing firms with loans to help them afford the discount.

Households will repay the discount in £40 instalments over five years.

The loans given to energy providers will be worth £9.1 billion in total.

Council tax rebates

Rebates of £150 will be provided in April to households in council tax bands A to D - Mr Sunak said the discount will not need to be repaid.

Around 80% of all homes in England will benefit from the rebate, Mr Sunak said.

Help from local authorities to increase

Councils will get a discretionary fund of nearly £150 million to support struggling house families in living in high tax rate homes.

Local authorities will be able to use the cash to help lower income households in higher council tax bands, and households in bands A-D who are exempt from council tax.

Warm homes discount

While this is not a new announcement, the chancellor said eligibility for the Warm Home Discount will be expanded by almost a third.

It mean three million low income households will be able receive the benefit, which take £150 off their electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022.

The money is not paid directly to customers - it’s a one-off discount on electricity bills, between October and March.

Criticisms of the new policy

Labour said the support amounted to a "buy now, pay later scheme that loads up costs for tomorrow".

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said Mr Sunak is "gambling that prices are going to fall" by lending energy providers billions.

"But they could go up further in October. What then? Billions more loaded onto people's bills?"

Labour said the best way to target support would be to extend the Warm Home Discount to nine million households and increase the discount to £400 from £150.

Ms Reeves highlighted Labour's plan for a windfall tax on oil and gas producers, accusing the chancellor of seeking to "shield" them, before adding: "The Conservatives aren't solving the cost of living crisis because the Conservative Party are the cost of living crisis."

Mr Sunak said the "Opposition may have some soundbites but they certainly don't have a policy", adding a windfall tax was "superficially appealing" but risked deterring investment.