PM to back state loan plan to support businesses during energy crisis – report

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly backing plans to loan millions to help industries hit by the rise in global gas prices.

High energy costs have led to fears that companies will close factories or go to the wall and that the Secretary of Commerce will make a formal offer to the Treasury Department for assistance.

On Monday, Kwasi Kwarteng applied to support endangered companies over the winter, and The times has reported that the multi-million pound series of government loans is being supported by Mr Johnson.

The newspaper said companies at risk of closure would get loans to keep them from closing over the winter and to prevent the loss of thousands of jobs.

The Treasury Department had previously denied having had discussions with the economics department, leading to fears that a support package would not be available.

Mr Kwarteng held discussions with industry leaders last week, and ministers and officials will continue to speak to businesses this week.

He has promised to keep the energy price cap to help households struggling with rising costs.

But no new business support has been promised, despite bosses and some Tory MPs calling for help to keep them from going under when wholesale prices rise.

Industries such as ceramics, paper and steel manufacturing are considered the hardest hit.

The Times said Mr Johnson wanted the loan program to be rolled out quickly despite concerns from Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Tory frontbencher Lord Agnew of Oulton said the rising energy costs had nothing to do with supply bottlenecks, but were due to a “geopolitical move” by Russia to put pressure on Europe.

The Finance Minister’s remarks seemed to go further than the government has previously done by pointing a finger directly at Moscow for the current crisis.

And it follows claims that Russia limited gas supplies in an attempt to get regulators in Europe to quickly certify the controversial new Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

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