RISHI Sunak's offer of £350 to help with rising living costs will be cold comfort to families in poverty already struggling to keep warm, a York charity warns.

The independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation said the support would not get people through the coming weeks, with inflation also set to rise at more than double the rate of benefits.

Regulator Ofgem announced today, Thursday, that the new energy bill price cap will rise by 54 per cent per cent from April.

This means annual energy prices will rise by £693 for millions of households after Ofgem hiked the price cap on bills to £1,971.

The Chancellor said the majority of households would receive £350 of support through council tax rebates for households in bands A to D and an upfront discount on bills.

Mr Sunak told MPs the price cap meant the impact of soaring gas prices had fallen mainly on energy companies so far, causing some suppliers to fold.

He said it was 'not sustainable to keep holding the price of energy artificially low', but the Government could 'take the sting out of a significant price shock for millions of families' by ensuring the increase in prices was smaller initially and spread over a longer period.

Those eligible will get a £150 discount on their council tax bill in April, and a further rebate of £200 in October off their energy bills.

The £200 rebate will be repaid over five years in instalments of £40, Mr Sunak said.

The chancellor said the plan will provide 28 million households 'with at least £200' and 'tens of millions of hardworking families' will have £350 more in their pockets.

But Katie Schmuecker, the JRF's deputy director of policy and partnerships, said: “The Chancellor has offered cold comfort to families in poverty, who are already rationing what they can spend on essentials such as heating and food.

"These families are now expected to find at least half of the eye watering increases in energy bills, when many are already getting into debt to keep their houses warm and food on the table.

“Three quarters of those who can claim the enhanced support are not in poverty. Meanwhile inflation is set to rise at more than double the rate of benefits. This support will not get people through the next few months and it will not protect those most at risk of hardship.

“People in poverty are hit hardest by all these pressures because our social security system is simply not offering adequate support, and until that changes they will continue to be exposed to every economic shock.

“The Chancellor has made his choice, the harder choices will now be coming for those who still can’t afford essentials for themselves and their families.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said the move was 'hopelessly inadequate', and a stop gap measures instead of fixing the big problems.

“Ministers should be getting urgent help to families that need it most through raising universal credit. And we need a windfall tax on the excessive profits from North Sea gas to cut bills and boost investment in affordable energy.”