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UK's Hunt says average household energy bill to rise, keeps cap

FILE PHOTO: Row of electricity pylons near Ellesmere Port

LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said the cost of an average household energy bill would rise to 3,000 pounds ($3,555) a year from April after he reined in the scale of support for gas and electricity, but kept a price cap until 2024.

Hunt had said in October the government could no longer deliver a two-year energy support scheme for households that had been promised by previous leader Liz Truss which would have kept annual bills at around 2,500 pounds.

Providing details on what will happen to annual energy bills from next April, he said they would rise by about 500 pounds.

"From April, we will continue the Energy Price Guarantee for a further 12 months at a higher level of 3,000 pounds per year for the average household," Hunt told parliament on Thursday.

That still represents significant help for consumers. Without the price guarantee, household gas and electricity bills were expected to rise to 3,739 pounds a year from next April based on average energy use, according to analysts at Cornwall Insight.

Under Hunt's new, cheaper more targeted plan, the government said it would make changes from April to ensure that households which use very large volumes of energy have their state support capped.

"This proposal is intended to ensure taxpayers do not subsidise all of the energy usage of those households with extremely high usage," the government said in its budget document which accompanied Hunt's speech.

The "Energy Price Guarantee" will be kept under review and the government could revisit the scheme's parameters if the forecast cost rises significantly, it added.

After April 2024, the government plans to develop a new approach to protecting consumers from energy price rises, it said. Hunt said that the cost of helping households and businesses with their bills until the end of March 2023 was 55 billion pounds.

($1 = 0.8440 pounds)

(Reporting by David Milliken, writing by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden)