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UK meets energy firms but no help yet for hard-hit consumers

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LONDON (AP) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior ministers held inconclusive talks Thursday with energy companies amid growing pressure to help residents cope with soaring gas and electricity prices .

Johnson, who is in his final weeks as Prime Minister, joined Treasury Chief Nadhim Zahawi and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in the meeting with companies including Scottish Power, EDF and Centrica. But with Johnson insisting that major budget decisions should be left to his successor, the talks have brought no relief to Britons struggling with a cost of living crisis.

Johnson said the government would continue to urge the power sector to keep working on ways to ease cost of living pressures and invest more and faster in Britain’s energy security.

There was a hint that the Conservative government might act at some point. He said he was continuing to assess the extraordinary profits seen in parts of the power generation sector and the appropriate and proportionate action to be taken.

Energy bills around the world have soared this year as war in Ukraine squeezes global oil and gas supplies. The problem is particularly acute in Britain, where the bills people pay are governed by a price cap set by a regulator and linked to wholesale prices.

The average UK household fuel bill has risen by more than 50% this year, with another rise expected in October. Consultancy Cornwall Insight forecast this week that the average bill will hit 3,500 pounds ($4,300) a year in the autumn and top 4,000 pounds ($4,900) in the new year.

Energy suppliers say the price increases are not their fault.

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