Rage Against the Dying of the Pilot Light: Brits Angered by Huge Bill Hikes
20:13 GMT 04.03.2022 (Updated: 15:24 GMT 28.05.2023)
Last autumn's soaring market prices for natural gas have returned with the outbreak of war in Ukraine and Germany's decision to sanction Russia by suspending the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. But prices of bread and pasta could soar too, if the world's biggest wheat exporter, Russia, is cut off from the market.
Britons angry at massive rises in their energy bills have taken to social media to vent their frustration with utility firms.
UK energy regulator Ofgem announced last month it would raise its price cap, allowing suppliers to hike bills by up to 54 percent.
Ofgem previously resisted industry pressure to lift the cap early last autumn when speculation on gas futures raised international prices to over $2,000 per 1,000 cubic metres.
Now households face being pushed into fuel poverty — defined as when bills reduce net income to under 60 percent of the national median average — as the war in Ukraine and Germany's decision to suspend the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from energy-rich Russia again sends markets into a downward spiral.
Some called on the government, as well as Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, to help bill-payers out, while others accused energy firms of profiteering.
One user suggested a mass campaign refusal to pay the new higher tariffs. UK regulations prevent energy firms from cutting off basic utility services, but they can pursue debtors for repayment.
Left-wing Labour MP Jon Trickett called for the energy utilities to be re-nationalised in response to the rises.
Last week, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng claimed that while Britain's largest source of gas was wells under the North Sea — mostly Norwegian — and "unlike Europe, we're not reliant on Russian gas," however "like others, we are vulnerable to high prices set by markets."
UK citizens could face a further hit to their purses if sanctions on Russia halt wheat shipments from the world's largest exporter — raising the price of staples like bread and pasta.