Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today re-stated his commitment to a continuation of the default price cap, urging energy customers and retailers to bide their time till Ofgem specifies in the next fortnight the hike due to take effect in April.
“The price cap has done great work in keeping prices low, and I’m confident it must continue”, Kwarteng told listeners to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Reports have increased in number in recent days that talks between big energy retailers, the Treasury and Kwarteng’s D-BEIS are focussing on a contracts-for-difference style deal, possibly linked to loans made to energy suppliers and underwritten by the government.
Challenged by presenter Michal Hussain on rises likely to add £700 a year to average household bills after April, the energy secretary ruled out any early announcement from government on bill mitigation before Ofgem announces the new level of price cap, reportedly in early February.
“If there is a hike, we are talking across government – colleagues Treasury, and my department together – working to see what we can do to mitigate substantially higher in bills”.
He floated chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement as a likely opportunity for the government to clarify support for bill payers and suppliers facing last year’s rocketing charges for wholesale gas.
“Ultimately [ subsidy measures ] are the responsibility of the Treasury”, Kwarteng said this morning “It would be unusual for the Treasury to say ahead of time the measures would be, but I’m confident there will be some”.
Reports last night indicated that chancellor Sunak is pondering whether to pay up to £500 directly to struggling families.