Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning, he said the combination of rising gas costs and the looming £20 a week cut to Universal Credit was a “difficult situation” and he had spoken to Cabinet colleagues, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, about the pressures facing families.
Some 4.4 million households on Universal Credit are poised to see their energy bills rise significantly in October – the same month they will typically lose more than 5% of disposable income as the £20-a-week uplift to the benefits payment ends.
Host Susanna Reid told Mr Kwarteng that families would face “the choice between heating their homes and staying warm or eating”. She added parents might forego meals in order to feed their kids, and the Business Secretary needed to “offer them some hope”.
He replied: “You’re right, and that’s why I’m very keen to keep the warm home discount and also there are other winter fuel payments that we’re looking at.”
Pressed further over whether he had asked Mr Sunak to raise the warm home discount, he said: “We have discussions about the Budget, and you will see what happens in the Budget. I can’t possibly pre-empt or anticipate what will be in that Budget ahead of time, you’ll appreciate that.”
The rising wholesale price of gas has caused a gas crisis in the UK, with a number of smaller energy suppliers already going bust.Some analysts have predicted the UK’s energy companies could be drastically reduced over the coming months, leaving as few as 10 if the gas crisis continues.
The energy price cap is already set to rise from October 1, with those on default tariffs paying by direct debit facing an increase of £139, rising from £1,138 to £1,277.
• We are keen to hear your views about rising fuel prices. Are you worried about not being able to afford to pay your energy bills this winter? Are you contemplating reducing your energy consumption because you are worried about the cost? Has your energy supplier gone bust?
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