Britain’s head of government, confessed attender at a No 10 lockdown party and late apologist for insulting the conscientious, suffered further humiliation today, as the energy crisis he once passed off as ‘temporary’ was predicted by Centrica’s CEO to last for at least another 18 months.
Chris O’Shea told BBC Radio this morning that high prices for wholesale and retail gas might last into 2024. Resisting demands for a windfall tax on gas and oil extractors, as made by Labour, he said it would be inefficient as a solution.
O’Shea told Today: ‘As we move towards net zero gas is a big transition fuel and so as you turn off coal powered stations in other countries maybe there’s more demand for gas.
‘Over the long run you do get more balance in this system but there isn’t an abundance of gas that you can just turn on quickly.
‘So I can’t say that this will be done in just six months or nine months or a year I can simply just look at what the market says at the moment. The market suggests that high gas prices will be here for the next 18 months to two years.’
He added: ‘There’s no reason to think that energy prices will come down any time soon.’
The Centrica boss ruled out boosting supply from the North Sea as a solution .
He said: ‘I’m not sure an increase in UK supply would have brought the price down from £3 a therm, as it was in December, to 50p as it was a year ago.
‘We bring gas in from the United States, from Norway, from Europe, from Qatar, from other places. So we’re not in a position to simply have the UK as an isolated energy market. We are part of a global market.’
O’Shea named three measures he claimed would together avoid about £375 extra on home bills, equal to around half of the anticipated rise:
- deferring the £100 cost of the supplier fee
- temporarily or permanently removing 5% VAT on domestic bills
- removing green levies
‘Those three things together could be enacted very quickly, without regret, and that would take half of the price rise and you get a further relief targeted at those households that need it most’, O’Shea observed.
Ovo Energy boss Stephen Fitzpatrick also called for the Government to cut green levies and social costs on energy bills, and instead raise the money through normal taxes.
‘It’s important to note that consumers will need to pay the real price of energy,’ he said. ‘But what we have in our energy bills today (is) not only VAT, but also a whole bunch of environmental and social costs that the poorest in our society are paying the highest proportion towards.
Nervous Conservative backbenchers have complained of Rishi Sunak’s low profile during the crisis, amid forecasts that Ofgem’s April revision of the price cap will send home bills rocketing by up to 40% in time for local elections on 5 May. As reported by the BBC, the chancellor will hold talks with Tory MPs in coming days, attempting to dampen Conservative anger on the issue.
In the Commons today Britain’s premier confessed to spending 25 minutes on 20 May 2020 at an event advertised by his own permanent private secretary Martin Reynolds as ‘socially distanced drinks’. Leaders of all opposition parties called on Johnson to resign.
Veteran backbencher Sir Roger Gale told BBC’s ‘World at One’ that the premier is ‘a dead man walking’.