Business secretary to keep energy price cap in place this winter

Business

The business secretary has vowed to keep energy prices capped this winter despite soaring wholesale prices to shield millions of consumers from price hikes this Christmas.

Kwasi Kwarteng said keeping the cap in place is “non-negotiable” and did not set out any additional support for struggling businesses after some company bosses and some Tory MPs called for help to prevent industries grinding to a halt.

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Businesses call for gas price cap

Mr Kwarteng sought to reassure the public of “the safety net that we have in place to shield consumers from instant price hikes this Christmas, and ensure everyone gets the supply they need”.

“Despite some pushing me to lift the cap, I am absolutely clear it is here to stay and will remain at the same level throughout winter,” he wrote in the Sunday Express.

“Keeping this protection in place is non-negotiable for me.”

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Some energy firms have said the cap is not “fit for purpose” and called for reforms and emergency support to prevent collapses, which will also burden costs on the taxpayer.

Proposing reforms including inspecting the cap four times a year, Utilita Energy’s non-executive chairman Derek Lickorish said: “The cap is not fit for purpose.

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“There is no doubt that there is going to be a huge cost paid by customers for failed suppliers… certainly well over £100 million for every 200,000 customers that fail.

“The government has to look at means by which they can support not only energy suppliers but also big industry.”

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Mr Kwarteng met representatives of energy intensive industries on Friday to discuss the crisis affecting wholesale gas, which has rocketed in price by 250% since the start of the year.

It follows claims that Russia, which supplies much of Europe, is contributing to the volatility of the market by limiting stocks.

Businessman and Kremlin critic Bill Browder told Sky News: “I think that there are economic factors that have played into the rise of prices of gas and may other commodities, but Vladimir Putin never lets a good crisis go to waste.

“He will surely be involved in trying to exploit this for his own geo-political advantage.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will be speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News from 8.30am this morning.

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