Those earning $74,000 a year will also need energy bill support: UK Finance Minister

Mr Nadhim Zahawi said the government was looking at "all the options" for further support. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Middle-income households will also need support with their energy bills this winter, Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi said, as Britons face domestic power and gas bills this winter that will be almost triple last year's level.

The British Finance Minister told The Telegraph in an interview that rising energy costs would be "really hard" for those earning £45,000 (S$74,000) a year, such as senior teachers or nurses, adding that the government was looking at "all the options" for further support.

Britain announced a £15 billion package of support in May, including £400 credits to all households and more for the poorest.

Ms Liz Truss and Mr Rishi Sunak, in a race to replace Mr Boris Johnson as prime minister, are under pressure to give further details on how they plan to help struggling households ahead of the result of the Tory leadership contest on Sept 5.

Energy regulator Ofgem announced on Friday that the annual cap on domestic energy bills would rise to £3,549 in October, with analysts estimating further increases in 2023.

Mr Zahawi has also drawn up options to help smaller companies which don't benefit from the energy price cap, and is considering offering loans to energy suppliers, The Telegraph reported.

The opposition Labour Party has said it would support a freeze in energy bills, a measure which Mr Zahawi did not rule out, saying that "nothing is off the table", according to The Telegraph.

Ms Truss - the front runner in the leadership contest - has said she could not give details on support measures before seeing options presented to her in the event of a victory. She has already promised to cut taxes and suspend green energy levies on bills.

Mr Sunak wrote that both tax cuts and emergency support to help with energy costs would be an "economic gamble that could lead to even higher and more long-lasting inflation", in an opinion piece published on Saturday in The Times. Tax cuts alone would do "nothing for most of the people who need it most" this winter.

As chancellor, Mr Sunak introduced a package of measures earlier this year to combat the cost-of-living crisis, with additional support targeted at more vulnerable households.

He wrote that he would "look to try to do the same again" for the most vulnerable, given the scale of increases in energy costs.

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