North East families could get more help with their heating bills

By Catherine Furze

A radical scheme to give families living in the North East a cash injection to help pay for soaring heating bills is said to be under consideration by the Government.

Households in the coldest parts of the UK - including our area - could get the extra cash this spring under plans to tackle the energy crisis.

The plan,according to The Telegraph newspaper, was presented to Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of a series of discussions with backbench MPs on how to protect millions of Brits from a cost-of-living crisis that is expected to see energy bills double by April.

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Among other ideas presented was a proposal to slash the rate of VAT on energy.

But MPs are said to be backing the radical scheme to give more money to areas that experience colder temperatures and use their heating more.

If implemented, it would see a majority of pay-outs given to homes in the North of England, although Treasury sources are said to be concerned that there is no clear mechanism for divvying up winter payments geographically, making the policy difficult to implement.

The Government already has the Cold Weather Payment scheme which pays some benefit claimants £25 for every seven-day period that temps drop below freezing.

Among other measures being touted is a boost to the Winter Fuel Payment, which helps pensioners cover their bills and is currently worth up to £300.

Research has shown that homes in the coldest parts of the UK are spending up to 66 per cent more of their weekly budget on heating than properties in London.

According to the Office for National Statistics, regions such as Scotland and the North of England have higher heating bills than warmer places such as London - where homes pay the least in energy bills.

With the energy price cap – which impacts 15 million households – expected to jump in April, the Energy Saving Trust says many could see the cost of heating their homes hit unprecedented levels.

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