It comes as another 29,612 Brits tested positive for Covid as of Sunday, and a further 56 people died within 28 days of testing positive
Brits are set to face a “difficult winter” with rising energy bills, Covid spikes and the destruction of financial schemes helping those most in need.
Around 4.4 million households on Universal Credit will see their energy bills rise significantly in October while losing their £20 a week uplift payments a week at the same time.
Boris Johnson has tried to assure the nation that “Christmas is still on”, but food shortages are still on the cards.
Read on for a breakdown of the issues you should look out for from next month.
Rising energy prices
Tories have admitted that Brits face a “tough winter” ahead – with people in the North more likely to be hammered by rising energy prices.
A surge in global gas prices has put pressure on domestic energy suppliers, several of which have already gone bust.
Spiralling wholesale costs look set to filter down to household bills.
The energy price cap protects consumers from sudden hikes in their bills, but it also means that suppliers have gone to the wall as they can’t pass on higher costs to their customers.
But some 1.5million households have seen their providers collapse, meaning they face uncertainty about which company will take on their supply and how much it will cost.
The energy price cap is already set to rise on October 1 by £139, and ministers are in talks with regulator Ofgem about the next review in April if gas costs remain high.
Motorists are facing fuel shortages at the pumps as a lack of HGV drivers wreaked havoc on the supply chain.
BP, Esso and Tesco petrol forecourts were hit by shortages, with large queues reported on Friday as drivers tried to fill up.
BP said that around 20 of its 1,200 petrol forecourts were closed due to a lack of available fuel, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.
There is a shortage of 100,000 drivers, according to the Road Haulage Association, with the situation exacerbated by Covid pressures and Brexit red tape.
Ministers were locked in talks on Friday over how to alleviate the shortage, with changes to immigration rules considered to make it easier for foreign drivers to fill the gap.
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Shoppers have already seen some empty shelves due to a shortage of carbon dioxide linked to the global gas shortage.
US-owned fertiliser plant CF Industries was handed a Government bailout to restart its UK operations after halting production due to the gas price rise.
Its UK plants are major suppliers of CO2, which it produces as a by-product.
Carbon dioxide is used for a range of things in the food sector, including stunning animals before slaughter and keeping fresh products chilled.
The shortage of lorry drivers has also compounded issues.
Retailers warned there were just 10 days to save Christmas from “significant disruption” due to the lack of hauliers.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said festive disruption would be “inevitable” if progress is not made swiftly.
Furlough comes to an end
The furlough scheme will shut down next week on September 30.
One million Brits are set to still be on furlough when it comes to an end, experts have revealed.
The Resolution Foundation projected one million employees are set to remain on the scheme right up until the last moment.
Of those, “the majority” will return to their jobs but hundreds of thousands will need to find new work in October.
Since it launched last March, furlough has supported 11.6million jobs by paying up to 80% of people’s wages – at a cost of nearly £70billion to the taxpayer.
But there are fears of a cost of living crisis – as energy bills are rising on October 1 and Universal Credit payments are being slashed from October 12.
A leading health expert said Coronavirus could resemble the common cold by spring as people’s immunity to the virus is boosted by vaccines and exposure.
But we still have a fierce winter ahead of us.
Professor Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, himself admitted winter needs to pass as double jabbed Brits are still at risk of the virus.
In the coming weeks we could see Covid hospitalisations in England rising to more than 6,000 a day, according to Government scientific advisors. This would be higher than the third lockdown peak.
Worryingly for the Government, which has said that instructing people to work from home is only a “possibility” if cases soar, SPI-M said there was “clear consensus” that the measure had kept the pandemic under control in recent months.
Boris Johnson outlined his plan for tackling Covid over the winter months, a period when respiratory viruses thrive.
Plan ‘A’ revolves around booster jabs for the over-50s and vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds.
While plan ‘B’, measures enforced could include mandatory vaccine passports, face masks in public places and encouraging people to work from home.
A million and a half working people face being plunged into “hardship” this winter as their benefits are slashed by £20 a week, at the end of this month.
Citizens Advice research showed 67% of working claimants fear they will struggle to pay bills, fall into debt or be forced to sell belongings to make up for the £1,040-a-year shortfall in their income.
About one in four working recipients – equivalent to 600,000 people – worry they will be unable to afford food or other basic necessities like toiletries.
Even Boris Johnson could not say if he could survive on the usual Universal Credit payment earlier this week.
The Prime Minister was asked if he could get by on just £118 a week – the standard UC allowance for a couple over 25 after UC is slashed next month.
The temporary “uplift” was announced in March last year as the coronavirus pandemic hit Britain.
Calls to extend the rise are mounting amid growing warnings of a winter living standards crisis.