Northamptonshire homes face double whammy of soaring energy bills and pandemic-fuelled rise in electricity use

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Prices set to double as meters show seven percent jump in consumption while thousands work from home

Figures show more Northamptonshire residents are facing even higher fuel bills as Covid-19 forces people to spend more time at home.

Data showing a seven percent rise in domestic electricity usage comes at the same time as prices are being driven upwards by a spike in the cost of gas.

Energy bills are already predicted to double this year.

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy figures published in December 1,311.6 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity were consumed by domestic meters in Northamptonshire during 2020 compared to 1,227.0 the year before.

Yet overall electricity use fell as businesses were locked down and thousands worked from home.

Non domestic consumption in the county fell from 2,077.2 GWh in 2019 to 1,882.3 in 2020.

Across Britain, overall electricity use dropped by 4.8 percent – the largest year-on-year fall on record — leading to a fall in VAT revenue for the government.

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Experts say bills will soar this year at a time when Northamptonshire residents are using more electricity than everExperts say bills will soar this year at a time when Northamptonshire residents are using more electricity than ever
Experts say bills will soar this year at a time when Northamptonshire residents are using more electricity than ever

Fears have been raised about the soaring cost of energy bills as work from home advice has been reintroduced throughout the UK. The disruption has been bankrupting suppliers since September, costing consumers £4billion.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves is calling on the Government to remove VAT on domestic gas and electricity bills through the winter months to help families weather the storm.

Ms Reeves said: “Right now, people are being hit by a cost-of-living crisis which has seen energy bills soar, food costs increase and the weekly budget stretched.

“We need a sustainable and ambitious approach to energy, which is why Labour would also ramp up ambition with our plan to retrofit 19 million homes, making our energy supply chain more secure without hitting household savings.”

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Labour says new figures from the House of Commons Library show that rising bills in other sectors means the Treasury is expected to have an extra £3.1 billion in VAT receipts this year which it could use to fund the energy bill VAT cut.

However, the Government said VAT receipts were forecast to be below pre-Covid levels, with a loss of £2 billion compared to directly before the pandemic.

The business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with energy companies and regulator Ofgem after Christmas to discuss how to deal with soaring gas and electricity prices.

A Government spokesman said: “Throughout the meeting there was discussion of the issues facing the sector and an agreement for meetings to continue over the coming days and weeks to ensure UK consumers are protected.”

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They added vulnerable households were being supported by initiatives such as the warm home discount, which has been extended to cover an extra 750,000 homes, as well as winter fuel payments, and cold weather payments.

A new emergency winter fuel payment scheme has opened for applications following December's announcement that £2m would be made available for extra emergency payments to help those most affected.

About 20,000 households are expected to benefit from the scheme but Pat Austin, from the Fuel Poverty Coalition, insisted that £2m 'in the face of this crisis is really nothing.'