TWO charities which provide support and advice to people experiencing financial hardship have welcomed the extension of the government’s energy price guarantee.

During the Spring Budget yesterday, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed the guarantee, which caps average household bills at £2,500, will be extended at its current level for a further three months.

It had been due to rise by £500 to £3,000 next month.

Martin Jones, who is the advice and welfare operations manger for Age Well East, said: “The costs are still high but the fact the cap hasn’t increased further is reassuring.”

The charity provides face-to-face advice to adults, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s on a range of issues.

Martin added: “More people are coming to us because they’re worried about rising costs.

“Some people are only heating one or two rooms to reduce costs, when they might’ve heated their whole home in the past.”

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On top of this, prepayment meters – which often cost more – will change.

Ofgem has agreed with suppliers a temporary suspension to forced installations of prepayment meters, and Hunt said he will “bring their charges in line with comparable direct debit charges”.

Christians Against Poverty, a charity working with over 800 affiliated churches to deliver debt help, and budgeting guidance, has campaigned extensively for an overhaul of prepayment meters, “sharing what [they’re] seeing on the ground” with the government.

Paula Goddard, who is the charities debt centre manager in Colchester, said that she “welcomes the energy price guarantee extension and the abolishment of a poverty premium on prepayment meters” but added that “we still feel so much more needs to be done to ensure people on the lowest incomes have enough to cover their basic needs”.

Paula also said: “We want the government to be much bolder in tackling poverty to ensure everyone has a liveable income.”