A County Durham charity trust has warned that Thursday's (November 23) announcement about the energy price caps increasing will lead to a "Winter and Spring of devastation" for the region. 

The average household energy bill will rise by £94 a year from January after Ofgem increased its price cap in response to rising wholesale prices.

The regulator announced it is raising its price cap from the current £1,834 for a typical dual-fuel household to £1,928 from January 1.

The Northern Echo: The average household energy bill will rise by £94 a year from JanuaryThe average household energy bill will rise by £94 a year from January (Image: PA MEDIA)

The energy price cap sets a limit on the maximum amount suppliers can charge households in England, Wales and Scotland for each unit of gas and electricity.

But the chief executive of the East Durham Trust, Graham Easterlow, has laid bare the devastating impact this price rise could have on households and individuals in the region. 

The East Durham Trust helps around 750 households and 2000 people each month - which involves distributing grants on behalf of Durham County Council and helping communities where they can.

The Northern Echo: Graham Easterlow, chief executive of East Durham TrustGraham Easterlow, chief executive of East Durham Trust (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

But Mr Easterlow has warned that this issue could now be exacerbated by the increase in household costs and other items, which saw the East Durham Trust take 110 referrals in a single day in October. 

 Mr Easterlow said: "It's interesting that a day after the Autumn Budget that brought about an increase in National Insurance, an increase in wages and an increase in benefits, an increase in energy costs goes up the very next day.

"This is going to be the most challenging winter financially for people. It's going to be a winter of struggle and a spring of devastation. 

The Northern Echo: The increase has been condemned by regional, local and national charities and groupsThe increase has been condemned by regional, local and national charities and groups (Image: PA MEDIA)

"People that we are helping are saying that the government aren't doing enough. 

"As I look at the economic and political picture - I see a massive inequality. You've got billionaires and MPs taking planes to meetings and you've got others struggling to heat their homes and feed their kids." 

Over the last couple of months, Mr Easterlow has said that he's seen numerous devastating incidents, which saw one man the East Durham Trust helped believing that his benefits would be cut off the next day, while another woman that the Trust helped was contemplating suicide before getting financial help. 

The announcement from Ofgem puts hopes for relief from the cost-of-living crisis on hold, and follows Chancellor Jeremy Hunt making no mention of any further help from the Government to offset household energy bills in Wednesday’s (November 22) autumn statement.

The Northern Echo: Jeremy Hunt after Wednesday's Autumn statement Jeremy Hunt after Wednesday's Autumn statement (Image: Getty)

And Mr Easterlow now admits that people are "on edge" about the future and being able to survive price increases. 

He added: "I don't think people are worrying about today, tomorrow or next week, they're worrying about the rest of their existence. 

"Billionaires are out there with more money than they can ever spend, but my main mission at the Trust is to hold on to hope."

But these issues from the East Durham Trust aren't isolated. 

The Northern Echo: Ofgem chief executive Jonathan BrearleyOfgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley (Image: PA MEDIA)

Interim Chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, Michele Deans, has also highlighted the picture on the streets for people of the North East right now.

She said: "After years of punitive increases to the cost of household essentials, families across the North East now face a situation in which they’ll be paying more for their energy than they ever have before come January, one of the coldest points of the year.

‘This simply isn’t sustainable when thousands of families throughout the region are already struggling to meet their basic needs – and we know that growing numbers of parents and carers are turning to charity, going into debt or simply going without in order to try and keep their children clothed, warm and fed.

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"We already have one of the very highest rates of both child poverty and destitution here in the North East, and – without additional targeted support – yet another hike to energy costs is going to make that unacceptable picture even worse."

In response to the energy price cap rise, Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley said: “This is a difficult time for many people, and any increase in bills will be worrying.

“But this rise – around the levels we saw in August – is a result of the wholesale cost of gas and electricity rising, which needs to be reflected in the price that we all pay."