Treasury ‘denies talks’ with Kwasi Kwarteng over energy crisis

The business and energy secretary said he was ‘working very closely’ with Chancellor Rishi Sunak ‘to get us through this situation’ but denied reports suggesting he asked for ‘billions’ of pounds worth of subsidies

The Big Zero report

The Treasury has reportedly denied any discussions with Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng about providing potential support for energy intensive industries to tackle the energy crisis.

Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Kwarteng said he was “working very closely” with Chancellor Rishi Sunak “to get us through this situation”, referring to winter help for the industry and support for businesses struggling with soaring energy prices.

In addition, he told Sky News: “What I’m very clear about is we need to help them get through this situation. It’s a difficult situation, gas prices, electricity prices are at very high levels right across the world and of course, I’m speaking to government colleagues, particularly in the Treasury, to try and see a way through this.”

However, reports claim the Treasury denied the department had been in discussions about any support.

When asked about whether there would be additional government support for energy intensive companies, such as steel, cement and chemicals, the business and energy secretary told Andrew Marr he was “looking to find a solution”, adding: “We already have existing support and we’re looking to see what’s sufficient to get us through this situation.”

He, however, denied reports suggesting he asked for “billions” of pounds worth of subsidies.

The news follows a meeting with representatives from energy intensive industries, such as steel, cement and chemicals, to discuss high global gas prices on Friday, after some industries warned firms could be forced to shut down operations.

Mr Kwarteng referred to it as a “critical situation” and insisted he is “listening and trying to work out a way forward”.

He added: “I think it’s a challenging situation but as I’ve always said, the energy supply is not an issue. We’ve got security of supply, we’ve got flowing sources of gas and electricity. We’ve got diversity in terms of our electricity generation mix, we’ve got nuclear, we’ve got renewables, we’ve got gas and through that mix, I think we’ve got a great deal of resilience.”

He said he has been in talks with Ofgem and they looking at ways in which the system might be vulnerable but they are also “increasingly confident that what we have now can see us through the winter”.

When asked about any extra help for energy companies, the business secretary added: “I’ve been very clear that we’re not going to bail out failing energy suppliers. Typically, as I’ve said before, between five and eight companies leave the market every winter.”

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