Energy crisis – live: Kwarteng admits ‘very difficult winter' ahead amid fear of blackouts as gas prices soar

© Jack Taylor/Getty Images kwasi-kwarteng.jpg

LIVE – Updated at 08:43

Energy companies and the government have agreed the energy price cap must “remain in place” during crunch talks to find a solution to record gas costs.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng held a crisis meeting with the industry before announcing to the Commons ministers would not be bailing out energy firms and the energy price cap would be “staying”.

In a joint statement issued late on Monday evening, Mr Kwarteng and Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley confirmed they had taken a unified position over the price ceiling continuing.

A harsh winter could force the UK to restrict business’ energy supplies, shutting down factories in a throw-back to the three-day week of the 1970s, according to sector experts.

The UK’s gas storage would run low within weeks if there was a Europe-wide supply crunch triggered by a severe winter, according to academics and consultants who have advised the UK on energy security and market capacity.

The supply crunch would most likely hit Britain in February and March: the worst months for storage levels in recent years, according to data gathered by the National Grid which overseas energy infrastructure.

Key Points

  • Gas price cap will stay, Kwarteng and Ofgem insist
  • Fears of blackouts for industry if harsh winter strikes Europe
  • ‘It could be a very difficult winter,’ Kwasi Kwarteng admits

Business secretary refuses to rule out energy price cap rising again in April

08:40 , Chiara Giordano

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng refused to rule out the energy price cap rising in April next year.

Asked whether the cap could rise again once the current period expires, he told BBC Breakfast: “There are always fears that the price cap may go up, but, of course, it can also go down.

“We don’t know, frankly, what the gas price is going to be in six months’ time.”

He added: “I’d love to be able to inform you six months ahead of time what the energy prices will be.

“All I’m saying is that we are going to have a cap, we’re not going to go back to the world where a few…companies essentially can set whatever fees they want, whatever prices they want. That’s not something that I want to see again.”

‘It could be a very difficult winter,’ Kwasi Kwarteng admits

08:29 , Chiara Giordano

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admitted “it could be a very difficult winter” when asked about the worries for families who may be faced with choosing between heating their homes and putting food on the table due to rising National Insurance, soaring fuel costs and a cut to Universal Credit.

“It’s a difficult situation, it could be a very difficult winter,” he told BBC Breakfast.

He added: “You’re right to mention the National Insurance price tax rise, but of course that kicks in in April, so it’s not strictly a winter issue.

“You’re also right to say that we face a global energy spike in terms of prices. But I’ve said that there are mechanisms in place now to protect consumers, I’ve been very clear that the energy price cap is staying even though some energy companies I read today are asking for it to be removed, I’ve been very clear that that’s staying, so we’re protecting customers there.

“We’ve got the warm home discount, we’ve got winter fuel payments, which are again focused on the most vulnerable customers.”

Britain risks blackouts for industry if harsh winter strikes Europe

08:21 , Chiara Giordano

A harsh winter could force the UK to restrict business’ energy supplies shutting down factories in a throw-back to the three-day week of the 1970s, according to sector experts.

The UK’s gas storage would run low within weeks if there was a Europe-wide supply crunch triggered by a severe winter, according to academics and consultants who have advised the UK on energy security and market capacity.

Our economics editor Anna Isaac and business correspondent Ben Chapman have the full story:

© Provided by The Independent

Britain risks energy blackouts for industry if harsh winter strikes

Gas price cap will stay, Kwarteng and Ofgem insist

08:16 , Chiara Giordano

Energy companies and the government agreed the energy price cap must “remain in place” during crunch talks to find a solution to record gas costs.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng held a crisis meeting with the industry before announcing to the Commons that ministers would not be bailing out energy firms and that the energy price cap would be “staying”.

In a joint statement issued late on Monday evening, Mr Kwarteng and Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley confirmed they had taken a unified position over the price ceiling continuing.

“Central to any next steps is our clear and agreed position that the energy price cap will remain in place,” they said.

Mr Kwarteng had earlier told MPs the cap saves 15 million households up to £100 a year, adding: “It’s not going anywhere.”

08:14 , Chiara Giordano

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage as gas prices hit record highs. We’ll be bringing you the latest news and updates throughout the day.

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