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Households face ‘tough winter’ with long spike in energy prices, Tories admit

HOUSEHOLDS may face rises in energy prices “longer than a short spike” and assurances earlier this week that nobody will face higher tariffs if their supplier goes bust can’t be guaranteed, a Tory minister admitted today.

More than 800,000 people lost their gas suppliers in the last 24 hours, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband pointed out, adding: “What we are dealing with is far from normal.”

Business minister Paul Scully had told Times Radio that it was “not going to be possible” to ensure people were not shifted onto more expensive contracts, just two days after his boss Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said they “would be expected to pay the same amount” if transferred to a new supplier.

And he declined to rule out further rises in the price cap imposed by energy regulator Ofgem, blaming global gas prices, admitting: “It’s going to be a tough winter.”

Mr Kwarteng faced a grilling in the Commons, with Mr Miliband asking how the government could justify ploughing ahead with cuts to universal credit as families face a sharp rise in energy bills and York Central MP Rachael Maskell raising the disproportionate impact on the north, with its colder winters.

But he failed to promise any change of course, claiming that the Warm Home Discount would “protect the most vulnerable customers” and that the universal credit cut was a matter of “budgetary responsibility.”

Union calls for nationalising energy had fallen on deaf ears, he confirmed.

“The solution from this crisis will be found from the industry and the market, as is already happening,” Mr Kwarteng claimed.

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