Business Secretary insists 'no question of lights going out' amid gas price hike crisis
The Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted there is “no question of lights going out” amid a gas price hike crisis.
Wholesale prices for gas have surged 250 per cent since January, with a 70 per cent rise since August alone.
Monday afternoon Mr Kwarteng addressed MPs after holding talks with the industry over fears small suppliers could go under.
He said: “I must stress that protecting consumers is our number one primary focus and will shape our entire approach to this important issue.
“Secondly, I also want to reassure the House that while the UK like other countries in Europe has been affected by global prices, Britain benefits from having a diverse range of gas supply sources.
“We have sufficient capacity, and more than sufficient capacity, to meet demand and we do not expect supply emergencies to occur this winter.
“There is absolutely no question of the lights going out or people being unable to heat their homes. There will be no three-day working weeks or a throwback to the 1970s. Such thinking is alarmist, unhelpful and completely misguided.”
Mr Kwarteng insisted the energy price cap will remain in place and the UK Government would protect people from “price spikes”.
He said: “We must not suddenly return to the ‘cosy oligopoly’ of years past where a few large supplies simply dictated to customers conditions and pricing.
“The energy price cap, which saves 15 million households up to £100 a year, is staying. It’s not going anywhere.
“Our priority in this situation has to be the consumer, the Great British public, and the cap has done that effectively. It protects and has protected millions of customers from sudden increases in global prices this winter."
Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband warned that UK families were going to be hit by a “triple whammy” of tax rises, fuel costs and the end of the Universal Credit uplift.
He said:: “The rise in the price cap of £139 means half-a-million more families will be plunged into fuel poverty.
"At a minimum he should be looking at making the operation of the £140 warm homes discount automatic and possibly extending it, but even that will not be enough.
“These energy price rises turn the indefensible decision on Universal Credit into an unconscionable one.”
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