The end of the month was once a time of celebration for many, who happily announced it was ‘payday’ to friends and colleagues before declaring how they would reward themselves for their hard work – with a pint at the pub, a fine dining or a shopping spree.
But things have changed in recent years. First there was the pandemic, now it’s a combination of inflation and a cost of living crisis that robs payday of its happiness.
For many these days, the money that comes into their account goes out almost immediately or is already spent, as inflation drives up the cost of groceries and fuel, landlords raise rent, and bills keep mounting. sharply.
Inflation jumped to a new historic high of 8.9% in July in Europe for the 19 countries bound by the euro, fueled by rising energy costs.
Wholesale electricity prices increased in the first quarter of 2022 by 411% in Spain and Portugal, 343% in Greece, 336% in France and 318% in Italy compared to the same period in 2021, according to the European Commission.
There are no signs of an improvement in the energy crisis anytime soon, as Europe braces for the possibility of Russia completely cutting off its gas supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
As energy prices rise while wages remain unchanged, some are living paycheck to paycheck and others are forced to decide whether to spend their limited funds to keep the lights on in their homes or to fill the fridge.
In the UK, energy prices rose more this year than any year in the 1970s, when the country suffered from a catastrophic economic downturn. Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, said Britons are facing a “historic shock to real incomes” as a result of these energy bill increases.
The government is stepping in to tackle this impending crisis with a £400 (€475.6) rebate on the energy bill for each household, which will either be paid directly to accounts with automatic payment to their electricity supplier. energy, either which could be separately claimed by the families.
Households already struggling to make ends meet and who have already received government benefits will also receive a one-off “cost of living” payment of £650 (€773) on top of the £400 rebate, and retirees will receive an additional payment. £300 (€357) this winter.
Disabled people should also receive a payment of £150 (€178) to cover the increased cost of living.
Italy, which like other countries in Europe is suffering from being weaned off Russian gas supplies after deciding to reduce its dependence on Moscow, has pledged a 14 billion euro subsidy for fuel and an investment plan to control energy bills and avoid increases that would make these unaffordable for many families.
The country also plans to give a €200 bonus to workers earning €35,000 a year or less and offer a 20% tax credit to energy-intensive companies whose prices rise by more than 30%. On the other hand, Italy has announced its intention to tax companies profiting from the rise in energy prices.
Like Italy, Spain has decided to tax energy companies that profit from rising energy prices and use the money raised to help its citizens pay the bills.
Madrid has already reduced value added tax (VAT) on energy bills from 21% to 10%, while also reducing an existing tax on electricity from 7% to 0.5%.
Like Portugal, Spain currently applies a one-year cap on gas prices, agreed by the European Commission, which ensures that they remain below an average of €50 per megawatt hour.
France is also offering a one-off payment to its citizens to help them cope with difficult times, although at just €100, that’s considerably less than in the UK and Italy.
But France has stepped up its game at the source, forcing state energy supplier EDF to limit the rise in wholesale electricity prices to 4% for a year. The move is expected to cost 8.4 billion euros.
The country’s internal tax on final electricity consumption (TICFE) has also been reduced from €22.50 per megawatt hour to just €1 per megawatt hour for households and €0.50 for businesses. The French government aims to limit electricity price increases to 4%, against 45% expected.
Germany, which has recently struggled to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian gas, has approved two relief packages totaling 30 billion euros to help its citizens cope with rising energy prices This year.
The German government will offer all taxpayers a single energy price flat rate of €300, which will be transferred to them via their employer’s payslip. Families receiving maintenance will receive an additional €100 per child, while recipients will receive a one-off payment of €200. People receiving housing assistance will receive a supplement of €270 for people receiving housing assistance.
The country also offers subsidized public transport tickets.
According to data from price comparison portal Check24, around 4.2 million German households are expected to see their electricity bills rise by an average of 63.7% this year, while 3.6 million will face utility bills. gas 62.3% higher than last year.
The Dutch government, which expects inflation to reach 5.2% this year, offer eligible households a single energy allowance of €800.
It also lowers VAT on energy from 21% to 9% and cuts duties on petrol and diesel by 21%, a cap that will remain in place until the end of the year.
As market prices for energy rise around the world, Norwegians will only pay a fixed amount decided by the government last year. Under a scheme introduced by the government in 2021, Norwegians only pay their bills in full when prices are below 70 crowns (€7) per kWh. When energy bills exceed this threshold, the government covers 80% of the total.
Despite this, Norwegians apparently still struggle to pay their bills, and the government is considering other options to help households this winter.