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ENERGY

Electricity bills in Italy could rise by up to 25 percent from January

Households and businesses in Italy face further steep increases to their gas and electricity bills from the start of 2022 unless the government intervenes, warn experts.

Consumers in Italy could see significant electricity bill increases in 2022.
Consumers in Italy could see significant electricity bill increases in 2022. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

Electricity bills for the average family could rise by anywhere between 17 and 25 percent from the start of next year, while gas bills are set to increase by as much as 50 percent, warned Davide Tabarelli, president of the research institute Nomisma Energia, in an interview with news agency Ansa on Wednesday.

Italian households recently saw a significant hike to their energy bills in October, when the price of electricity increased by 28.9 percent and gas by 14.4 percent.

At the time, Italy’s government stepped in and allocated three billion euros to offset some of the costs and shield end consumers from the worst of the price increases.

Without the measures, the increase passed on to individuals could have reached 45 percent, Italy’s energy regulatory authority Arera said.

READ ALSO: Electricity bills in Italy rise by almost 30 percent from Friday

But energy costs in Italy are now set to soar again unless the government commits to setting additional price caps, Tabarelli warns.

Without further state intervention, “the two or three billion to be allocated in the budget to reduce bills is a little thing,” he told Ansa.

Italy isn’t the only country to be affected by surging energy costs.

Europe as a whole is facing soaring power prices as its economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, while natural gas reserves on the continent are at a worryingly low level.

Italy in particular consumes a large amount of gas compared to its European neighbours: some 40 percent of its primary energy consumption is gas, compared with about 15 percent in France, according to official statistics for both countries.

Tabarelli pointed to a reduction in the amount of gas delivered to Europe from Russia as one of the key causes of the crisis.

READ ALSO: Rising energy prices: How to save money on your bills in Italy

This is partly due to aging transportation networks, and partly to Moscow’s efforts to apply pressure on European governments to give the necessary approvals to open its Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the launch for which was pushed back by Germany’s energy regulator to at least March 2022, he said.

He also highlighted a push by China and other countries to transition their main energy supply from coal to natural gas, increasing global demand on the energy source.

“Energy companies are investing more in renewables and less in fossils, but the demand for gas isn’t decreasing,” Tabarelli said.

His concerns are echoed by the non-profit Italian consumer rights organisation Consumerismo.

The organisation has calculated that if prices rise as predicted, the average family in Italy will spend 3,368 euros on energy bills in 2022 – an increase of 1,227 euros on 2021 – reports Ansa.

It recommends that the government allocates at least 10 billion euros “to counter increases and speculations on international energy markets, and avoid the maxi-sting that is about to hit consumers.”

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UK AND ITALY

Can British people in Italy claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment. But can Britons living in Italy really claim this benefit to cover the cost of heating their Italian homes?

Can British people in Italy claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

Average winter temperatures vary across Italy, but those who move here after only experiencing scorching summers are often surprised to discover just how cold the country can get.

Even the hardiest of arrivals from colder climes will no doubt have to switch on the radiators or fire up the woodburner between November and February – despite the surging costs.

READ ALSO: Not just gas: How the cost of heating has soared in Italy

As the cost of living crisis bites, some UK nationals who reside in Italy may wonder if they could still be eligible for winter fuel financial support from the UK.

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The UK’s winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Those eligible must have been born before September 26th 1956, according to the UK government’s website.

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £250 and £600.

I’m a UK national living in Italy. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

Yes, if you meet the following criteria according to the British government’s website:

“If you do not live in the UK, you’re only eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • you moved to an eligible country before 1 January 2021
  • you were born before 26 September 1956
  • you have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK – this can include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK”

Unlike Spain and France, which the British government has deemed to be too warm on average, Italy is on the list of eligible countries along with Austria, Germany, Sweden, and others.

Find out how to claim the fuel payment on the UK government’s website here.

According to the UK government, during winter the average temperature is between 2 and 7 degrees Celsius in the UK.

READ ALSO: At what time of day is electricity cheapest in Italy?

The Italian government divides the country into six ‘climate zones’ which determine when and for how long residents should have their heating switched on each winter.

According to the government’s classification, the coldest parts of the country are the northern provinces of Cuneo, Trento, and Belluno, where no heating restrictions apply.

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