UK Business Secretary Didn't Lie About Treasury Talks to Back Energy Crisis-Hit Firms, Minister Says
13:15 GMT 11.10.2021 (Updated: 15:16 GMT 28.05.2023)
Last week, many British businesses voiced concern over a record-high surge in energy prices, which they warned could ride roughshod over production and add to a energy crisis.
UK Home Office Minister Damian Hinds has made it clear there is no split between government departments over support for companies tackling soaring energy prices as he tried to defend Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng over his recent remarks on the matter.
In a Sunday interview with Sky News
, Kwarteng insisted he was in talks with Chancellor Rishi Sunak's team
on possible further support for businesses facing higher bills. This was followed by an unnamed Treasury source telling Sky News
they are "not involved in any talks" and that it wasn't the first time Kwarteng "has made things up in interviews".
When asked whether it meant Kwarteng was lying, Hinds said, "of course not", adding that "these unnamed sources stories come out from time to time".
"The fact is, government departments, government ministers, talk to each other the whole time, and of course with an issue like this, with these rising global prices and business having to grapple and deal with it to make sure they break even and can make a margin, of course that is something that the business secretary – and of course the energy secretary – is going to be totally focused on", Hinds pointed out.
The minister spoke after Gareth Stace, the director general of UK Steel, told reporters about British companies' desire to get government bailouts to shore up the sector and have parity with trading conditions experienced by EU competitors.
"What we're asking for is, 'Hey, government, we've been telling you for a decade that your policies add something like £55 million that we pay in the UK, as the steel sector, that our competitors in, say, Germany don't pay'. Historically that puts us at a competitive disadvantage", Stace said.
Industry group Energy UK chief executive Emma Pinchbeck, for her part, warned that more "fragile" intermediary household supply companies could go bankrupt over the winter, claiming that would mean price hikes for consumers.
7 October 2021, 21:39 GMT
The remarks came amid an ongoing energy crisis in the UK, with many British companies expressing alarm over an increase in energy prices and warning they may significantly damage production. Some firms even accused the UK Business Department of being unaware of the extent of the crisis.
This unfolds against the backdrop of the situation surrounding the prices of gas futures in Europe
, which soared to a record of $1,900 per 1,000 cubic metres last week, before plummeting by $740 and temporarily stabilising at about $1,198.