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No solution in UK govt talks with industry on gas prices

10 اکتوبر 2021
UK business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. Photo courtesy: The Times
UK business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. Photo courtesy: The Times

LONDON: The British government and industry are still trying to solve an energy crisis that bosses have warned could shut down production in a matter of days, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Sunday.

Faced with spiking global energy prices driven by fears over high winter bills, Kwarteng told broadcaster Sky News there was no plan so far for heavy industry, but added he was "very confident" in the resilience of the UK's energy supply.

"I can't promise anything as yet," Kwarteng said.

"I can't come on your programme and say that we're going to have a price cap, because we're trying to work out what the nature of that support might be."

Heavy industry bosses in sectors like ceramics, paper and steel manufacturing have called for a price cap, but talks with government on Friday failed to reach a solution.

The same day, UK Steel chief Gareth Stace called on the government to step in now to alleviate pressure on wholesale prices, saying action in a matter of weeks would be too late.

Kwarteng said Sunday that officials were "speaking constantly" with energy intensive heavy industry and was "absolutely focused on solving this problem", refusing to rule out a price cap.

Kwarteng also said the government would continue to protect consumers and a price cap on energy bills would not be removed for six months.

He also pushed back against calls from energy firms, nine of which went bust in a single month in September, to lift the consumer cap.

"Many companies during this period have said we should lift the price cap or get rid of it," he said.

"It does offer consumers the protection that we all need against very, very high upswings in the price," Kwarteng added.