Energy bills: Which countries are helping citizens out the most amid the crisis – MAPPED

Cost of living: Three tips to save money on energy bills

With Russia’s war in Ukraine sparking supply chain issues, while Vladimir Putin’s gas cuts to Europe have also worsened the situation, energy bills across Europe have soared to new highs. This is also the case in the UK, even though Britain only got four percent of its gas from Russia last year. While some European countries like Germany have a staggering dependence on Russian gas (it got nearly two thirds of its gas from Russia last year), the integrated nature of the energy market means that the whole of Europe is feeling the pinch. But which countries are doing the most to shield households from skyrocketing energy costs?

The UK 

The energy price guarantee unveiled by former Prime Minister Liz Truss freezes bills at £2,500 for typical households, but this is set to run out in April after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt scaled back the scheme, which was meant to last two years.

The Chancellor has promised that more targeted measures will follow, but there are fears that he will scale back Government subsidies on energy bills as he mulls over public spending cuts to plug the £55billion fiscal black hole in Treasury finances. 

These include the £400 winter discount, which is meant to be getting distributed to all households over the course of six months. And depending on how old you are, you may be entitled to an annual one-off payment of £100-£300. 

The most vulnerable UK households are also receiving £1,200 of support provided in installments over the year. However, when Mr Hunt unveils the November budget on Thursday, some of these measures could be set to change. It comes after he warned that support for energy bills can’t go on “indefinitely”.

Energy bills

Governments in Europe are paying billion to shield households from rising energy costs (Image: Express)

Putin

Putin has sent European gas prices soaring (Image: Getty )

Germany 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz unveiled a £175billion support package to help ease household bills, which he explained would function as a defensive shield” designed to ease the pressure facing millions of Germans from the astronomical rise of gas and electricity costs across Europe. 

While German citizens may have feared they would fare the worst as the EU country which is the most reliant on Russian gas, with Reuters warning that Germans faced a 62 percent this year. But Berlin appears to be doing well at mitigating the damage. This December, Berlin is also set to pay the monthly gas bill for all households and small- to medium-sized businesses in a major boost for German industry. 

And from March 2023 to the end of April 2024, private households look set to pay €0.12 (£0.11) per kilowatt hour for the first 80 percent of last year’s use of gas, while businesses would pay from January 1 2023 until the end of April 2024 €0.07 per kilowatt hour for the first 7 percent of last year’s use.

Other measures include one-off payments to vulnerable households and tax breaks for energy-intensive businesses. But not all EU members are happy with Germany’s measures. Poland, for instance, has accused Germany of “destroying” the EU’s internal market by subsidising its own businesses, while it opposed an EU-wide cap on gas prices.

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Russia's gas

Europe is hugely dependent on Russian gas (Image: Express)

France 

In a £7billion move, France’s state-owned EDF cap price rises at 4 percent for a year back in January. And as part of a £39billion scheme, Paris said it will cap rises in gas and electricity at 15 percent for 2023 to shield households and businesses from surging energy costs. 

Former French Prime Minister Jean Castex also announced last year that the Government will provide a one-off €100 (£88) payment to citizens on less than €2,000 (£1,753) a month after tax in a bid to help them cope with surging energy and fuel prices. 

Mr Castex said that around 38 million people will benefit from this cash, including both independent and salaried workers, farmers, unemployed citizens and pensioners. Paris also plans to slash energy consumption by 10 percent using voluntary measures like capping indoor temperatures at 19C and paying civil servants an extra €2.88 (£2.52) per day to work from home so Government buildings can close. 

And Paris has also announced a €12billion (£10.5billion) package aimed at small and medium-sized businesses that are struggling to pay their energy bills. Around €7billion (£6.1billion) of the total cost will be financed from a windfall tax slapped down on energy companies making excess profits. 

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Hunt

Hunt may sclae back Government subsidies on energy bills (Image: Getty )

Scholz

Scholz has unveiled a £175bn energy bill support package (Image: Getty )

Italy

Like Germany, prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Italy was also hugely dependent on Russia gas, accounting for around 40 percent of its supplies. But the nation has managed to shore up enough supplies to get it through the winter without requiring as much of Putin’s stocks, while Rome has also taken measures to shield consumers from rising prices. 

These include a £169 one-off payment for people earning €35,000 (£29,600) a year or less, and a 20 percent tax credit for all energy-intensive companies experiencing a 30 percent rise in prices. 

The Italian Government previously unveiled a £12billion package that lets households keep their fuel bills at around 2021 levels. But last Thursday, Rome also approved a package of measures worth €9billion (£7.8billion) to limit the impacts of rising prices, boost gas output and preserve stocks ahead of the winter.

More than a third of the package will go towards extending tax breaks for firms, mainly energy-intensive ones, introduced by the Government before new Prime Minister Georiga Meloni’s 

Energy bill

Governments are introducing price caps, one-off discounts and other measures to slash bills (Image: Getty )

Spain

Last month, Madrid announced a €3billion (£2.6billion) support package to “cushion the economic impact of Putin’s war on the social majority of the country and the most vulnerable groups”. 

The new set of measures will benefit 1.7 million households, which accounts to 40 percent of the Spanish population. The measures involve a special tariff created to limit quarterly energy price increases, which will be implemented until the end of 2023.

It also involves a reinstatement of the social energy bonus by increasing the amount of energy eligible for a discount by 15 percent. The discount percentage will also be boosted to 65 percent and 80 percent for vulnerable and severely vulnerable families.

Madrid has already cut VAT on energy bills and reduced tax on electricity, measures which were funded by a windfall tax on energy companies. And together with Portugal,  a price cap for gas – which will last for one year and aims to halve gas bills for 40 percent of customers, was introduced to the two countries. 

The Spanish Government is also handing out a one-off payment of €200 (£174) for people in Spain who earn less than €14,000 (£12,200) a year and who are not already receiving benefits.

Macron

Macron has unveiled a £39billion energy bill support scheme (Image: Getty )

The Netherlands

Until a planned price cap on energy comes gets introduced in January 2023, the Dutch Government is giving households a €190 (£166) fixed discount in November and December.

The discount aims to further support families and small businesses towards the end of the year, before prices return to January 2022 levels up to a certain point. Any extra use will be charged at market rates.

It is also slapping down a VAT on energy bills, while taxes petrol and diesel have been slasehd.  Low-income households are also receiving a €1,300 energy (£1,141) allowance this year to assist with paying their energy bills. 

On top of the price cap and fixed discount, the Dutch cabinet is drawing up measures to support energy-intensive businesses and shops. A compensation scheme is expected to come into effect on April 1, 2023.