By Susanna Twidale
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain on Thursday announced a 15 billion pound ($18.9 billion) package of support for households struggling to meet soaring energy bills.
Below outlines some of the policies Britain and European member states have announced to help shield consumers (in alphabetical order):
Britain has a price cap on the most widely used household energy contracts but this rose by 54% in April and is expected to rise a further 40% in October, energy regulator Ofgem has warned.
The government on Thursday announced a 15 billion pound package to help struggling households, partly funded by a 25% windfall tax on oil and gas producers' profits.
All households are expected to see a 400 pound discount on energy bills, while the lowest income families will get an additional 650 pound payment as well.
British finance minister Rishi Sunak said the latest announcements take the total cost of living support offered by the government to 37 billion pounds.
Bulgaria earlier in May approved a 2 billion levs ($1.1 billion) package aimed at shielding companies and low-income consumers from the surge in energy and food prices caused by the Ukraine conflict.
The government will also offer a discount of 0.25 levs per litre of petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas and methane from July until the end of the year and scrap excise duties on natural gas, electricity and methane.
Danish lawmakers have agreed a so-called “heat check”, which means subsidies worth 2 billion Danish crowns ($288 million) will be paid to some 419,000 of the hardest-hit households.
European Union countries are largely responsible for their national energy policies, and EU rules allow them to take emergency measures to protect consumers from higher costs.
The European Commission in October published a "toolbox" of measures EU members can use without breaching competition rules, including subsidies to help poorer households, funding for renovations that reduce energy use or exempting vulnerable households from higher energy taxes.
In April it gave the green light for Spain and Portugal to cap gas prices used to set electricity prices.
France has committed to capping an increase on regulated electricity costs at 4%. To help do this the government has ordered utility EDF, which is 80% state owned, to sell more cheap nuclear power to rivals.
New measures announced since the Ukraine crisis - such as helping companies with the cost of higher gas and power bills - bring the total cost of the government package to 25 billion euros-26 billion euros ($27 billion) Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
German workers and families will receive extra cash, cheaper petrol and cut-price public transport tickets to help them shoulder soaring power and heating costs.
Workers who pay income tax will receive a one-off energy price allowance of 300 euros as a supplement to their salaries. In addition, families will receive a one-time bonus of 100 euros per child, which doubles for low-income families.
This came on top of a roughly 13 billion euro package of measures including scrapping a surcharge levied on electricity bills to support green power announced in February.
Greece has spent some 2.5 billion euros in power and gas bill subsidies since September and in March detailed additional aid of 1.1 billion euros, which includes a fuel rebate for low-income households.
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi has budgeted almost 30 billion euros since January to help offset electricity, gas and petrol prices.
Around 11 billion euros will come from a windfall tax on the increased profits of energy companies that have benefited from surging energy prices.
The Netherlands has cut energy taxes for its 8 million households.
Norway has been subsidising household electricity bills since December and currently covers 80% of the portion of power bills above a certain rate. In March, the minority government proposed to extend the scheme by one year to March 2023.
Poland has announced tax cuts on energy, petrol and basic food items, as well as cash handouts for households. It has also extended regulated gas prices for households and institutions like schools and hospitals until 2027.
Spain cut several taxes to reduce consumer bills, originally planning to maintain the lower rates until the end of last year, but has since decided to keep them lower until the end of June 2022.
Spain announced 16 billion euros in direct aid and soft loans to help companies and households weather sky-high energy prices.
Spain also legislated to claw back profits deemed to have been inflated by high gas prices, but later introduced exemptions which lessened the impact on many utilities' contracts.
Spain and Portugal have also introduced temporary caps on reference prices of natural gas and coal used by power plants, used to set electricity prices, to keep power prices down.
Sweden will compensate households worst hit by the surge in electricity prices, with the government setting aside 6 billion Swedish crowns ($605 million) for the measures.
($1 = 0.7961 pounds)
($1 = 9.9095 Swedish crowns)
($1 = 6.9551 Danish crowns)
($1 = 0.9349 euros)
($1 = 1.8268 leva)
(Reporting By Susanna Twidale, Isla Binnie, Stephen Jewkes, Kate Abnett, Joseph Nasr, Robert Muller, Benjamin Mallet, Stine Jacobsen, Nora Buli, Angeliki Koutantou, Tsolova Tsvetelia, Anna Koper, Alan Charlish; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Susan Fenton)