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Met Office denies Rishi Sunak's claims of 'colder than usual winter'

December 2021 averages

A senior Met Office forecaster today ridiculed Rishi Sunak’s claim that Britain had experienced a “colder than usual winter” after the Chancellor said conditions were partly to blame for record energy cost increases.

Mr Sunak had written in a newspaper that “we’ve had a colder winter than usual, so we’ve used up more of our own gas supplies here at home,” and said this was partly behind the spike, along with China driving global prices drive up.

But Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna tweeted: “Colder than usual winter???!!!!!… UK average temperature (5.3C) = 1.1C above normal for December. UK average temperature (4.7°C) = 0.8°C above normal for January.”

It comes after Mr Sunak wrote in The Sun today that the factors causing the dramatic rise in energy prices were “beyond Government control” – after it was revealed the price cap will rise by 54 per cent, or £693, from April .

The Chancellor said: “Energy bills are going to increase and I know how concerned families across the country will be at this news. First, let’s look at why this is happening. There are a few factors that cause energy prices to rise so dramatically, and unfortunately they are largely out of government control.

“One is the surge in gas demand in countries like China, which has pushed up global prices. Another reason is the fact that we’ve had a colder winter than usual, so we’ve used up more of our own gas supplies here at home. All of this means that people’s energy bills will increase by an average of £693.’

Following the tweet from Mr Petagna, a senior weather forecaster and media adviser to the Met Office who has been a forecaster for more than 25 years, MailOnline has submitted its claims to the Treasury but it has yet to respond.

December 2021 averages

Average January 2021

Met Office charts show how parts of the UK had warmer-than-average December 2021 (left) and January 2022 (right).

Rishi Sunak attributed the record rise in energy prices to China pushing up global prices and Britain's 'colder than usual winter'.

Rishi Sunak attributed the record rise in energy prices to China pushing up global prices and Britain’s ‘colder than usual winter’.

The Met Office said in its December 2021 weather report that the month ” ushered in the meteorological winter with a broadly warm – albeit cloudy – weather month” ending with the UK’s warmest New Year’s Eve on record.

Wales recorded 16.5 °C (61.4 °F), while England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all rose above 15 °C (59 °F). The Met Office said that “unusually high temperatures” “coincided with a moderate late December”.

Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna slammed Rishi Sunak's claims that the UK had experienced a

Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna slammed Rishi Sunak’s claims that the UK had experienced a “colder winter than usual”.

Some stations even broke long-standing one-time records for the month, including Cromer in Norfolk, which experienced its warmest December day in a 103-year streak on December 30, reaching 15.4 °C (59.7 °F).

Forecasters said Britain had an average minimum temperature of 2.8C (37F) in December, which is 1.4C above the long-term average from 1991 to 2020. The highest average minimum temperature observed in December during this period is 5.2 °C (41.4 °F), set in 2015.

In the south, minimum temperatures were even above meteorological averages, with southern England recording average minimum temperatures of 4.3°C (39.7°F), which is 2°C above the month’s long-term average.

The Met Office also said there were “some exceptionally mild nights with overcast conditions and a south-westerly current pulling air off the Azores” and daily minimum temperatures on New Year’s Eve remained largely in the double digits.

A woman welcomes 2022 on the warmest New Year's Day ever as she stands in the water at the Forth Bridge

A woman welcomes 2022 on the warmest New Year’s Day ever as she stands in the water at the Forth Bridge

Britain had its hottest New Year's Eve on record last December, with swimmers taking to the water at Gyllyngvase in Cornwall

Britain had its hottest New Year’s Eve on record last December, with swimmers taking to the water at Gyllyngvase in Cornwall

The ice rink at Hampton Court Palace in London had to close on New Year's Eve 2021 because warm weather caused the ice to melt

The ice rink at Hampton Court Palace in London had to close on New Year’s Eve 2021 because warm weather caused the ice to melt

Several stations, including Sheffield, Bradford and Buxton, recorded their highest daily low temperature in a streak of over 100 years on New Year’s Eve – some 10C higher than the December average.

Millions of households will be affected by a £693 increase in energy bills

Household energy bills will rise by £693 a year from April, energy regulator Ofgem confirmed yesterday as the government stepped in to help households.

The regulator raised the energy price cap to a record £1,971 for a typical household as gas prices soared to unprecedented levels. For customers with prepaid meters, the price cap increases by £708 to £2,017.

The decision is likely to affect 22 million homes across the UK and will apply to those using their energy supplier’s standard tariff.

Shortly after the announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to “take the sting out of” price hikes. He promised that all 28 households in the UK would receive an upfront rebate of £200 on their energy bills from October.

The Government will provide the money for this, but they want the money back and will increase bills by £40 a year for the next five years from 2023 to recoup their money.

An average of just 11.5 days of ground frost were reported across the UK in December, well below the long-term average of 16.3 days. The fewest average ground frost days in December were in 2015 with only 5.8 days.

The following month, January 2022, was the sunniest start to a year on record for England and the third sunniest for the UK – starting with the warmest New Year’s Day on record for the UK at 16.3°C (61 .3°F). St James’s Park in London.

Scotland and Wales also broke their New Year’s Day record highs, with 15.9 °C (60.6 °F) in Achnagart and 15.6 °C (60.1 °F) in Hawarden.

The Met Office said this “mild theme continued for much of the month, albeit with some cool overnight temperatures in the south for much of the month”.

Forecasters added that it was a “particularly mild January for Scotland, with an average temperature of 4.7°C (40.5°F), making it the country’s sixth warmest January on record and 1.8°C above the long-term average”.

Meanwhile, following the announcement of the Government’s £9billion package to cut the cost of living, Mr Sunak said the financial pressures on households in the coming months could not be underestimated.

He wrote: “We made a difficult decision last year that we needed to find the money to address the unacceptable backlog caused by the pandemic, pay for vaccines and integrate our health and welfare systems. We cannot lend money for sweeping reforms and we have been open to it from the start.’

The government’s newly announced Energy Bill Rebate was introduced yesterday to try to cushion the blow of rising energy costs – which will coincide with a 7.25 percent rise in inflation in April.

The £9bn package will provide each family with £350, which includes a one-off £200 refundable rebate and a £150 rebate on council tax bills. Following yesterday’s announcement, the Prime Minister defended the measures as a “mega package”, adding: “I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it lately.”

Speaking to 5 News, he said: “We know the cause, it was caused by inflation in energy costs around the world, particularly the gas price hike that we are seeing. We have to help people, I think Rishi’s package is extremely good.’

The wholesale electricity price cost in the energy price cap is shown in pounds per megawatt hour in this chart from Ofgem

The cost of the wholesale gas price in the energy price cap is shown in pence per therm in this graph by Ofgem

Mr Johnson did not directly answer a question also put in Parliament about a windfall tax on fuel companies like Shell, which have benefited from the rise in global prices. He said the world is experiencing a “bumpy post-Covid period” with “inflation, blockages in supply chains as the global economy recovers”.

He added: “I think when it comes to taking huge sums of taxpayers’ money, £9.1 billion, and channeling it to help people with their heating and energy bills, everyone can see that this is a tremendous obligation.”

Ofgem, the energy regulator, said prices for 22 million homes will rise 54 per cent from early April, adding £693 to the annual cost of a typical household. The Chancellor also dismissed calls for a windfall tax on energy companies that make profits while customers struggle to pay mounting bills.

The Chancellor told the Martin Lewis Money Show such a levy would “deter” investment in the North Sea, which he said was needed to boost the economy and job levels. And the Chancellor said there could be a further rise in prices later in the year due to an “unpredictable” energy market.

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