Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted he was focused on helping ‘vulnerable’ customers heat their homes.
Hard-pressed families will face a “difficult winter” with rising energy bills and cuts to benefits, a Cabinet minister admitted.
Secretária de Negócios Kwasi Kwarteng said the combination of rising gas prices and the looming £20 a week cut to Universal Credit was a “difficult situation” and he had spoken to Cabinet colleagues including Chancellor Rishi Sunak about the pressures facing households.
Mr Kwarteng is grappling with a spike in global gas prices which has left energy companies struggling and had a knock-on effect on food supply.
Algum 4.4 million households on Universal Credit are poised to see their energy bills rise significantly in October – the same month they will typically lose more than 5% of disposable income as the £20-a-week uplift to the benefits payment ends – the Resolution Foundation think tank has calculated.
The energy price cap is set to rise by £139 a year (12%) to £1,277 for a typical gas and electricity customer from October 1 while the Government’s “uplift” in Universal Credit, intended as a temporary measure during the coronavirus pandemic, ends on October 6.
O Governo and regulator Ofgem have agreed the price cap will remain in place despite concerns within the energy industry about the impact it will have on firms left unable to pass on costs to customers.
Sr. Kwarteng disse: “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, Tenho sido muito claro que isso vai ficar, então estamos protegendo os clientes lá.
“Temos o desconto para casa quente, temos pagamentos de combustível de inverno, which are again focused on the most vulnerable customers. Então, we’re completely focused on helping vulnerable customers through this winter, particularly with regard to energy prices.”
Pushed on the issue of Universal Credit, he told the BBC: “É uma situação difícil, pode ser um inverno muito difícil.
"É por isso, as energy minister, I’m very focused on helping people that are fuel poor.
“Universal Credit, you will know, is an issue for the Chancellor and the Work and Pensions Secretary, I’m speaking to them a great deal about it.”
But he admitted there would be families this winter who would have to choose between eating and heating their homes.
On Good Morning Britain, host Susanna Reid told Mr Kwarteng that families would face “the choice between heating their homes and staying warm or eating, pais que podem abrir mão de refeições para alimentar seus filhos ”.
Ela disse: “Você precisa ser capaz de oferecer-lhes alguma esperança.”
The Business Secretary replied: "Você tem razão, e é por isso que estou muito interessado em manter o desconto para casa quente e também existem outros pagamentos de combustível de inverno que estamos considerando. ”
Asked whether he had requested that Mr Sunak raise the warm home discount, ele disse: “We have discussions about the Budget, and you will see what happens in the Budget. I can’t possibly preempt or anticipate what will be in that Budget ahead of time, você vai gostar disso. ”
The rise in energy costs has led to a crisis in the food supply chain because of a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2), produced as a by-product in fertiliser plants.
Mr Kwarteng has held talks with fertiliser firm CF Industries, which has suspended operations because of the high cost of energy, leading to a national CO2 shortage.
The gas is used to stun animals prior to slaughter and also forms part of the protective packaging used to keep foods fresh.
Mr Kwarteng said he hoped to have a “very clear plan” to get CO2 production back up and running this week.
He told Sky News he was “confident” of a resolution and “it’s pretty imminent”, adicionar a situação de CO2 era "crítico".
Ian Wright chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said shoppers may notice that products are missing from supermarket shelves “in about 10 days”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today the potential shortages of CO2 supply were “a real crisis” and said “the just-in-time system which underpins both supermarkets and the hospitality industry is under the most strain it has ever been in the 40 years it has been there”.
Mr Wright said that poultry production will begin to erode very seriously by the end of this week, com o mesmo sendo verdade para a produção de suínos e a fabricação de produtos de panificação. A embalagem de carne está provavelmente apenas cerca de uma semana atrasada, ele adicionou.
While Mr Kwarteng was positive about resolving the CO2 issue, he acknowledged the problems in the energy market could see more firms go to the wall.
He told Sky News: “Firstly, we’ve got to look after customers, we’ve got to make sure there’s a continuity of supply, and we’ve got to look after the most vulnerable – and particularly elderly – customers, that’s my first priority.
“The second thing I’ve said is that I don’t think we should be throwing taxpayers’ money at companies which have been, let’s face it, badly run.”
He told Times Radio that “not every company” could expect a Government bailout, but support could be available for larger firms.
“Any support for those larger companies will be in terms of working capital, will be a loan, it won’t be just a grant, it won’t be just a blank cheque,”Disse ele à BBC.
Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of trade association Energy UK, said the immediate concern is about helping energy companies through “a really unprecedented time”.
She told Good Morning Britain: “The immediate concern is about managing the vulnerability of our retail sector and making sure that customers are looked after through any unforeseen consequences of what is a really unprecedented time.”
Ministers and industry figures have said there is no risk of the lights going out this winter, with energy supplies secure despite the rising costs.