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No 10 warned of energy crisis and cuts could plunge families into trouble | politics

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Hundreds of thousands of Britons face a very, very difficult winter thanks to rising home costs, the number 10 has been warned, as firms said the energy price shock could cause a three-day week for factories and further gaps on shelves. supermarkets.

Senior Tories were among those urging Downing Street to wake up to the threat of food shortages and families plunging into trouble due to rising energy bills combined with universal credit cuts and the future rise of national insurance.

Damian Green, a former cabinet minister who was Theresa May’s deputy, warned of the prospect of very, very difficult times ahead for hundreds of thousands of people in the country, while Robert Halfon, a former Tory business minister, called for government to consider removing or reducing the 5% VAT on energy bills.

Workers said many households will be maimed by the triple blow of rising energy prices, rising NIs and universal credit cuts.

Energy bills will rise by an average of 139 in October, although the price limit limits further growth over the winter. The rise in global gas prices which has already caused the collapse of some suppliers and threatened much more means that there is a risk of a further rise at the next point of review in the spring.

Number 10 insisted the UK was resilient and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said there was absolutely no doubt about the lights going out, or about people not being able to heat their homes. The minister also dismissed the idea of ​​three-day working weeks or a return to the 1970s, saying such an opinion was alarming, useless and completely wrong.

However, the British Chambers of Commerce said the factories were already discussing a more permanent reduction in their operating capacity, such as a three- or four-day work week, or the reduction of their hours due to high gas prices, and consequent lack of CO2with

Firms known to be considering such a move include energy-intensive industries, as well as suppliers of packaging meat and fresh foods that rely on carbon dioxide.

A joint statement by Kwarteng and energy regulator Ofgem on Monday evening stressed that the crisis was not a matter of supply and said the UK has capacity that can meet more than demand.

A roundtable with power suppliers and customer groups held Monday morning will be followed by one of the smaller ones in the coming days. Central to any further step is our clear and agreed stance that the energy price limit will remain in place, the statement said.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, owner of Bernard Matthews, poultry producer, and 2 Sisters Food Group, has warned that labor shortages along with CO2 absence can result in Christmas cancellation.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at BCC, said the energy price crisis risks exacerbating the already dire supply chain situation facing many industries.

Companies are already battling a lack of transport and staff, linked to both Brexit and Covid, as well as global disruption of the pandemic-linked supply chain, with experts warning that higher energy prices are likely to lead in inflation.

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader and former energy secretary, said the prime minister and his government should not view the crisis as a global problem or a supply problem.

He said the imminent cost of the living crisis would hit the hardest hit, however the government has failed to invest in heating homes through insulation, he said. [Johnson] has failed to diversify the UK from excessive dependence on gas for heating and its broken Brexit deal is already boosting food prices.

Green, a former secretary of labor and pensions, estimated there would be about 500,000 people particularly vulnerable this winter. These are people many of whom are already working hard to keep their families afloat. Already cutting 20 would be difficult for them, he said.

Now we see that they would get rising energy prices, and we have already seen that inflation growth is faster than it has been for a generation. There is the possibility of very, very difficult times ahead for hundreds of thousands of people.

Ed Miliband said he feared the government was too complacent about the price and economic impact of the current energy situation.

The shadow business secretary called on Kwarteng to outline his plans to support businesses, particularly energy-intensive industries, and say whether he has considered providing government support in the form of loans to businesses in difficulty.

Stephen Elliott, chief executive of the Chemical Industries Association, said the industry was already paying a premium for energy compared to the rest of Europe at a time when it is facing rising costs of reducing carbon emissions.

Kwarteng said he was looking at options to help the industry, as well as making sure customers of devastated energy companies do not lose money or gas and electricity supplies.

The Guardian understands that officials are considering state-backed loans to help major UK energy suppliers get millions of unprofitable energy consumers ahead of a supplier tsunami that collapsed this winter.

As an alternative, the government is also considering plans for a bad banking company to get remaining customers trapped by the energy company failures to ensure they continue to get energy at the price they agreed to pay.

Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of Energy UKs, said there are no easy solutions, but the priority of all involved is to protect customers as much as possible. While the immediate focus is on the current situation, this shows why we need to continue the low-carbon transition and further reduce our dependence on fossil fuels to remove the risk of exposure to volatile international wholesale prices in the future.

Five small suppliers have fallen out of control in recent weeks and four more are likely to collapse before the end of the month, but the number of collapses is expected to escalate as cold weather components record high energy prices.

A source close to the talks confirmed that state-backed loans could be offered to powerful financial energy companies that can take clients, instead of small energy companies in trouble.

Energy regulator Ofgem on Monday named British gas as the new energy supplier for the nearly 350,000 customers left stranded when Peoples Energy ceased trading last week.

Bulb Energy, which has 1.7 million customers, is reportedly looking for new investments to fund the company’s growth, but may struggle to find new supporters due to risky market conditions this winter.

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