Heavy industry bosses in the UK have been piling pressure on the government to provide emergency cash to manufacturers struggling to cope with surging energy costs.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he was in talks with the Treasury to provide emergency funding to heavy industry firms, but the claim was quickly slapped down by anonymous sources at the Treasury.
A Treasury source said Kwarteng had “made up” the talks, although Number 10 said, “Treasury officials are working with Beis (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) as the lead department and Beis is working with a number of different departments on this”.
The row has left industry bodies desperate for clarity around whether the government will come to the rescue of manufacturers that are being driven to the brink by surging energy costs.
Gas prices have risen by more than 250 percent since January, which has seen 12 challenger UK energy firms go bust this year.
This has put serious pressure on many industrial firms that are high energy users as they do not benefit from the energy price cap afforded to households.
Director general of UK Steel Gareth Stace today told Times Radio that Boris Johnson needs to “bang ministerial heads together, and take control himself as the Prime Minister”.
He is calling for the government to cut “policy costs” around “carbon costs, renewables, capacity, and network charges”.
“The government could press a button, pull a lever, and address those additional costs that our competitors don’t pay,” Stace said.
“And then secondly, address the wholesale price. And that is in the short term, temporary, saying to government, provide us with a certain amount of capacity at a competitive price in that short term that will get us over this energy crisis now.”
“If you don’t do this now, then what is an energy crisis today could turn into a steel industry crisis in the future.”
Speaking to journalists today, Johnson’s official spokesman said: “It’s a piece of work across government – Treasury officials are working with Beis as the lead department and Beis is working with a number of different departments on this. It’s right we have those discussions in the industry.”
By City AM
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