Immediate bill hikes for millions of customers will be slowed by maintaining the energy price cap, the economics minister vowed as he opposed an increase to help businesses.
Kwasi Kwarteng said it was “non-negotiable” for me to keep the cap this winter after some companies advocated an increase to prevent collapses due to the energy crisis.
But it did not provide additional support to troubled businesses after bosses and some Tory MPs sought help to keep them from going under when wholesale prices skyrocketed.
As ministers came under pressure to prevent industry stalling and warnings of a cost of living crisis, Boris Johnson reportedly flew to Marbella to vacation in a private villa on the Costa del Sol.
Downing Street did not deny that he had traveled to Spain and refused to say whether the Prime Minister was working at No. 10 or Checkers as usual.
Mr. Kwarteng tried to reassure the public of “the safety net we put in place to protect consumers from immediate price hikes this Christmas and to ensure that everyone gets the supplies they need”.
“Despite some urge to lift the cap, I am absolutely certain it will stay here and stay at the same level all winter,” he wrote on the Sunday Express. “Maintaining this protection is not negotiable for me.”
Some energy companies have said the cap is not “fit for purpose” and have called for reforms and emergency aid to prevent collapses that will also weigh on taxpayers.
Paul Richards, the CEO of Together Energy, which is currently losing money, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “The price cap as a mechanism is not suitable for either industry or customers.”
He said the cap is “too good to be true” for customers right now and will feel like a “very, very bad deal” in April if it changes after one of Ofgem’s biannual reviews.
Utilita Energy non-executive chairman Derek Lickorish said, “There is no doubt that customers will pay huge costs for failed suppliers … certainly well over £ 100 million for every 200,000 customers that fail.
“The government must think about how it can support not only the energy suppliers, but also large-scale industry.”
At an emergency meeting on Friday, Kwarteng was told that energy-intensive industries needed a “winter package of measures” to prevent further disruptions in supply chains.
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