Sheffield MP Louise Haigh slams government 'failure' over soaring gas prices set to devastate families
A Sheffield MP says government failure over gas prices – on top of a shortage of carbon dioxide, Universal Credit cuts and Brexit – could be ‘devastating’ for families and businesses.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has been holding emergency talks with gas companies after natural gas prices soared 70 per cent since the start of August.
Louise Haigh MP said urgent action was needed to try to contain the ‘fall out’.
And it was another example of ministers failing to plan for the long-term, impacting on ‘families, businesses, supermarkets and the NHS’.
She added: “The Government now find themselves in the situation where they are exposed and expecting families and businesses to pay the price.
“If they fail to contain this fallout then the wider consequences could be devastating for families, businesses, supermarkets and the NHS.
“Boris Johnson promised that his Brexit deal would lead to lower energy prices, yet we are suffering from the biggest increase in Europe.
“The chair of the NHS Confederation has warned that the lack of carbon dioxide from the crisis could lead to operations being cancelled – adding to the enormous backlog that already exists due to Covid.
“Many families across Sheffield Heeley and the country will be adversely affected by the cuts to Universal Credit, which, if the Tories have their way, will be introduced in less than three weeks’ time. This is an added cost that will push even more families and children into poverty."
Following a meeting with regulator Ofgem, Mr Kwarteng said ‘well-rehearsed plans’ were in place to ensure consumers were not cut off in the event of energy company failures.
However, he is expected to come under pressure from the big suppliers for a major Government support package to help them through the crisis.
Mr Kwarteng acknowledged it was a “worrying time” for customers, but said he was confident supplies could be maintained. Consumers would be protected from sudden price hikes through the Government’s energy price cap.
However that puts pressure on the suppliers – particularly smaller companies – who are unable to pass on the increases to customers. Four firms have already folded and there are fears that more could follow.