Boris Johnson calls on companies to 'invest in British energy security' as cost-of-living crisis bites

Boris Johnson has appealed to electricity bosses to help ease the pressure on hard-pressed families amid warnings energy bills could top £5,000 by the spring

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After analyst Auxilione said regulator Ofgem could be forced to raise the price cap for the average household to £5,038 from next April, representatives arrived in Downing Street for a high-stakes meeting.

The meeting failed to produce any immediate concrete help for struggling consumers, with the Prime Minister insisting any “significant fiscal decisions” would be be a matter for his successor.

Mr Johnson was reduced to urging the companies to act “in the national interest” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has caused the price of oil and gas to soar.

He said in a statement: “Countries around the world are feeling the impact of Putin’s damaging war in Ukraine.

Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister for the next few weeks
Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister for the next few weeks
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi seconded the PM's call
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi seconded the PM's call

“We know that this will be a difficult winter for people across the UK, which is why we are doing everything we can to support them and must continue to do so.

“Following our meeting today, we will keep urging the electricity sector to continue working on ways we can ease the cost of living pressures and to invest further and faster in British energy security.”

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, who chaired the talks, added: “In the spirit of national unity, they agreed to work with us to do more to help the people who most need it.”

Mr Zahawi said ministers are continuing to monitor the “extraordinary profits” some companies are making, however Liz Truss, the frontrunner to succeed Mr Johnson, has made clear she opposes any new windfall tax.

While the talks – which were also attended by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng – had been billed in advance, the Prime Minister’s presence had not been announced beforehand.

The Treasury said the discussions focused on how the Government and industry can collectively drive forward reforms to ensure the market works better for consumers.

Officials said ministers had made clear that it was not always functioning in the interests of consumers and the “extraordinarily high bills” will ultimately damage the companies themselves.

At the same time they emphasised the need for continued investment in domestic energy sources – including North Sea oil and gas, renewables, biomass and nuclear – to strengthen UK energy security.

It comes as the risk of a nationwide blackout looks increasingly worrying.

Christopher Dembik, global economic expert for trading platform Saxo Markets provides his outlook for the UK economy and society:

“The United Kingdom is more and more looking like an emerging market country:

Political instability, trade disruptions, energy crisis – the risk of a blackout this winter is real – and high inflation are all hurting the UK economy.”

“The worst is yet to come for the British economy.”