Consumers Have Said “The Lights Won’t Go Out” This Winter Amid Fears Over Soaring Energy Bills
Consumers have been told not to worry about ‘turning off the lights’ this winter as the UK government’s price cap could see energy bills skyrocket when revised next year.
With gas prices at record highs, energy companies would lose “a lot of money” because of the cap, which is in place to prevent instant increases in customer bills, and industry regulator Ofgem has warned that households would see further “significant increases” next spring. .
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show Sunday morning, Ovo chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick said people shouldn’t be worried about power shortages.
“The one thing that I want to reassure everyone, in terms of consumers, there is really nothing that consumers have to worry about in terms of lights going out this winter or lack of power,” said he declared.
“Because of the price cap, they are protected from the worst of it all.”
Mr Fitzpatrick said gas prices had climbed 1000% in 12 months and many companies would face “hard times”.
Out of office
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng sought to defend the government’s handling of the crisis in a series of media appearances on Sunday.
But he was also forced to defend Boris Johnson, who has come under fire for traveling to Marbella to vacation in a private villa on the Costa del Sol as the government struggles to stem a cost of living crisis. and the fallout from soaring gas prices.
Mr Kwarteng said he remained in “regular contact on WhatsApp” with the prime minister, who he said recently lost his mother.
He said maintaining the price cap, which sets the maximum level a supplier can charge a consumer and is revised every six months, is “non-negotiable”, but would not say how the pressure on business could. be relaxed.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Mr Kwartney spoke of the “safety net we have put in place to protect consumers from instant Christmas price hikes and ensure everyone gets the supply they need.”
“Despite some pushing me to lift the cork, I am absolutely clear that he is here to stay and will remain at the same level throughout the winter,” he wrote.
“Keeping this protection in place is not negotiable for me. “
Speaking to Sky News’ Trevor Phillips later on Sunday, Kwarteng did not rule out a price cap for companies, as he denied reports that his department had asked the Treasury for “billions” to subsidize energy-intensive industries.
Appearing on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, he repeated that it had been “very clear that we are not going to bail out failed energy providers”.
SNP Westminster chief Ian Blackford compared comments on supporting struggling businesses to Margaret Thatcher’s policies as he called on the government to ‘heal’ businesses during the crisis.
The SNP MP warned that failing to support businesses as wholesale energy prices rise would affect everyone.
We’ll all pay the price
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Mr Blackford said: ‘The government needs to recognize that it has a responsibility to cripple businesses through this, to provide short term support.
“If we find ourselves in a situation, for example, where steel production stops in mid-west Scotland, it doesn’t help anyone.
“So we need to make sure businesses get the help they need in the short term as we go through this ordeal.
“Otherwise we’re all going to pay the price because we’re going to end up with higher unemployment, we’re going to end up with supply constraints; besides, we find ourselves in a situation – and the real concern I have about it – is that inflation is going up now.
“The Bank of England and the government have been slow to respond to this; we are now seeing wage inflation – in fact the Prime Minister is encouraging wage inflation.
“It runs the risk that we end up with higher inflation for longer and the consequences of all of that. It’s a serious problem.”
When asked if the Scottish government would provide support to businesses if the UK government does not, the SNP MP said energy policy is reserved for Westminster but the Scottish government will do what it can.
Asked about the advisability of developing the Cambo oil and gas field off the Shetlands, Mr Blackford did not respond directly but said the Scottish government had made the right decision in asking for the clearance decision to be reassessed .
He added: “Let’s reduce the demand so that we don’t need fossil fuels. Until we get to that point, it would make more sense for us to use our domestic resources rather than import. “
The holidays have repeatedly caused difficulties for Mr Johnson’s government.
Dominic Raab was demoted from his post as foreign minister after being criticized for staying on vacation in Crete while the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan.
The prime minister himself has undergone months of scrutiny after a trip to the Caribbean island of Mosquito in 2019.
He was ultimately cleared of breaking MPs’ code of conduct after an investigation into whether he had properly registered £ 15,000 of housing paid for by a Tory donor.