Cost of living help a 'drop in the ocean' says Basingstoke woman facing soaring energy bills

Maxine Boyes' bills will rise by £600 a year from April

A woman from Hampshire says the support for lower income households, announced in the Chancellor Rishi Sunak's spring statement, is a "drop in the ocean" compared to what families will have to payout.

Maxine Boyes lives alone in a two bed house in Basingstoke and is on a key meter.

She has been told her gas and electric bills will be going up by £600 a year from April.

Maxine said: "It is good that they are now helping out people with key meters with the £200 rebate but my bills have jumped up to £600 so that's going to be a little bit of a drop in the ocean to what we've got to payout.

"Especially with inflation and everything else going up."

Fuel duty and National Insurance have been adjusted in Rishi Sunak's spring statement, with the chancellor attempting to address the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Sunak warned MPs the nation must prepare for "the economy and public finances to worsen, potentially significantly" because of the impacts of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

He told MPs that sanctions on sanction Putin’s regime "are not cost free for us at home" and the Office for Budget Responsibility says there is "unusually high uncertainty" around the economic outlook.

Despite warnings, he is sticking with the planned National Insurance contributions rise of 1.25 percentage points but said he was raising the threshold to help the lowest paid workers.

Universal Credit payments will also increase to help struggling families deal with rising inflation, which by some estimates could hit 10% within months, growing from the current 30-year high of 6.2%.

And fuel duty is being slashed by 5p to help drivers manage, with fuel prices at petrol pumps currently higher than they've ever been before.

Maxine says the fuel duty cut it is "not a great amount" and she thinks the Chancellor could have "gone a bit further as it is "not a lot to help us out".

But the cost of living isn't expected to get cheaper, with the energy price cap set to lift by a huge 54% in April - hitting household bills with an increase of around £700 per year.

Ahead of delivering his speech his told Cabinet colleagues that the economic outlook was "challenging" given the "global shocks we are facing" from the Ukraine war and rising inflation, Downing Street said.

  • Watch Rishi Sunak's spring statement:

Maxine says she will have to "try and manage" by "limiting how long we have the heating on for".

She added: "A saving grace is that we're going into the summer so we're not going to be using as much gas and hopefully if there is another hike in October that they will look at it again.

"But it's going to be hard for anybody on a moderate wage and a low income, it's going to affect everybody."

Mr Sunak said he will scrap VAT on energy efficiency measures such as solar panels, heat pumps and insulation installed for five years.

He said a family having a solar panel installed will see tax savings worth over £1,000. And savings on their energy bill of over £300 per year.

Maxine said: "That's quite a long-winded thing to do, maybe they should have thought about this years ago and probably more wind turbines as well when we had the chance.

"But it's a big thing to have to put solar panels and heat pumps in and if you're in rented accommodation then you're not going to be able to do that yourself so it would be down to your landlord, whether it's a housing association or other to be doing that and that's not going to happen very quickly I'm afraid."