Ofgem boss warns Scottish households of new energy bill rise this year
The head of Ofgem has issued a warning to Scottish households that they should expect another rise in their energy bills this year.
Speaking in Glasgow at the All Energy conference, regulator chief Jonathan Brearley stated: "Gas markets remain in a febrile state since the Russian invasion.
"Prices fluctuated from nearly 16 times the average price last winter at its highest to around 4 times what we'd usually see.
"The market remains highly volatile and as a result we do expect further price increases later this year."
Market research firm Cornwall Insight previously forecast a further rise in prices this year, predicting that households would see their bills soar by up to £600 in October.
As reported by the Daily Record, this would mean the average household gas and electricity bill would be £2,595.
Mr Brearley added: "Many of you in the room know the impact the gas crisis has on the sector, but most importantly it is putting huge strain on the customers we serve.
"I talk to customers on a regular basis, and I know how tough rising energy prices are for many households and businesses.
"For some, not being able to afford rising energy bills is literally a matter of life and death."
Approximately 1.5 million households across the UK are struggling to afford food and bills amid the worsening cost of living crisis.
Rising inflation combined with the war in Ukraine will result in many families seeing bills that rise above their disposable income, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr) has estimated.
It has urged the UK Government to give emergency support, as it predicts that over 250,000 households will "slide into destitution" next year, with the total number in extreme poverty to hit around one million unless urgent action is taken.
Niesr stated that Chancellor Rishi Sunak should increase Universal Credit payments by £25 a week and give one-off £250 cash payouts to the UK's 11.3 million lower-income households.
However, on Wednesday the Prime Minister stated that the UK Government is unable to "completely shield" the public from the soaring cost of living, after being criticised for not using the Queen's Speech to promise more support.
Boris Johnson used the Queen's Speech, which was given by the Prince of Wales for the first time, to lay out plans to create a "high-wage, high-skill" economy, stating that the UK Government's programme would "build the foundations for decades of prosperity".
Charities, campaigners, and opposition politicians have all condemned that lack of immediate measures to give help to those who are struggling to pay their bills.
Johnson indicated help would come in the future, making use of the "fiscal firepower" of the UK Government.
"We will continue to use all our ingenuity and compassion for as long as it takes," he told MPs. "The Chancellor and I will be saying more about this in the days to come."
In response to the Queen's Speech, the Prime Minister warned that there would be a limit to how much public money he was willing to commit to addressing a global economic crisis.
However, he told MPs: "We will continue to use all our ingenuity and compassion for as long as it takes.
"The Chancellor and I will be saying more about this in the days to come."
Inflation is currently forecast to reach 10%, with benefits and wages failing to keep up with the increase in prices.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the UK Government of being "bereft of leadership", telling Mr Johnson: "This Government's failure to grow the economy over a decade, combined with its inertia in the face of spiralling bills, means that we are staring down the barrel of something we haven't seen in decades, a stagflation crisis."
Chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank Torsten Bell stated that ministers had not unveiled "anything that will make a material difference" to boosting economic growth.
The former Labour adviser tweeted: "Nothing material today on the short term nightmare of cost of living - Government has basically made up its mind to wait until September (when we find out how bad winter energy prices will be).
"The pattern here is help being too slow, too small and poorly targeted."
The UK Government drew attention to the £22 billion package of help, with energy bills, tax cuts and other measures already announced.
Mr Johnson said the "aftershocks of Covid-19 and the biggest war in Europe since 1945" are causing disruption around the world, with all major economies facing cost-of-living pressures.
Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham said that "this speech was a far cry from what struggling families needed to hear today", offering "no short-term comfort for parents struggling to feed their kids in the face of rocketing prices".