UK gas supply problems will not see ‘lights go out’, says business secretary Kwarteng

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UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted the country is able to meet gas supply needs despite the failure of a number of energy companies. And he criticized warnings from industry executives about the possible consequences of soaring gas prices as alarmist.

“There is no question that the lights go out, that people cannot heat their homes. There will be no three day work week, nor going back to the 1970s. Such thinking is alarmist, unnecessary and completely wrong, ”he told the House of Commons.

Britain’s biggest energy companies have asked for government help to cover the cost of supporting customers of small suppliers who have gone out of business since gas prices started to rise.

Mr Kwarteng said more suppliers could close their doors, but he ruled out supporting struggling companies with public funds.

“The current global situation may see more suppliers than usual exiting the market, but that’s not something that should be cause for alarm or panic. The government will not bail out failed businesses. There will be no reward for failure or mismanagement, ”he said.

Meat processors have warned they could run out of CO2, which is used to stun animals before slaughter, as well as in packaging and for beer and soft drinks. Two of Britain’s largest fertilizer factories, which produce much of the country’s supply of CO2 as a by-product, have closed due to rising gas prices.

Reduced capacity

British Chambers of Commerce have warned that rising energy prices could exacerbate supply chain problems and push some forms to a more permanent reduction in operating capacity.

“The government must do everything possible to preserve security of supply and ensure that customers and suppliers have access to the support they need to get through this difficult time. In the longer term, the government should work with industry to explore how to increase the resilience of our most strategically important supply chains for key resources, ”said Suren Thiru, group economics manager. .

The surge in energy prices comes as inflation rises and the UK government prepares to remove a £ 20 (€ 23) per week increase in the universal credit allowance introduced during the pandemic. Former Tory Minister Damian Green has warned his government could be heading for a cost-of-living crisis.

“We are clearly getting into a huge problem with the cost of living for people. Those who receive universal credit, many of whom work and work as hard as possible to keep families out of poverty, are the ones who will be most affected by the coming problems with inflation and energy prices ”, he told the BBC. .

“We are facing a big problem with global inflation, which I think will become the biggest political problem of the coming decade.”

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