Mild winter could protect households from soaring energy bills, says Kwasi Kwarteng

Kwasi Kwarteng has told energy bosses that Britain’s mild winter could protect households from rising energy bills.

The Business Secretary this week shared internal long-term forecasts, which showed that the Meteorological Office is expecting a wet and mild winter, with energy companies.

The hope among his officials is that people will not have to turn up their heating and fears of a spike in bills will not come to pass.

The energy price cap – which sets limits on what suppliers can charge customers on default tariffs – went up by £139 this month to push average bills up to £1,277. Analysts think it could go up by another £400 when it is next reviewed in April.

At a meeting this week, energy companies asked Mr Kwarteng for any long-term data from the Met Office, which his department funds.

According to the Financial Times, he showed the energy suppliers a Met Office briefing which said that "for the late winter period from January to February 2022, the most likely scenario is for an unsettled period of wet, windy and mild spells". The Met Office’s published longer-range forecast covers only the three months to January.

One official told The Telegraph: "Energy suppliers asked whether we had weather insights over the winter period, and the Business Secretary shared the most recent Met Office forecast. Our plan to protect consumers isn’t based on weather outlooks. Whatever happens, the energy price cap will remain in place to shield consumers from high global gas prices."

UK's record gas price

Officials hope that, if the winter is warmer, demand for gas will not be as high as expected.  "If the weather is milder, people use less gas," the source said.

However Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, said the discussion about the weather showed Mr Kwarteng was "crossing his fingers" rather than dealing with the problem.

He said: "This is a new low for government energy policy. Reduced to crossing his fingers for a mild winter, Kwasi Kwarteng is showing just how much a decade of inaction from the Government has left us vulnerable.

"Kwasi Kwarteng is the Business Secretary, not a weatherman. It is cold comfort for businesses and families that this is all he has to offer."

Energy companies are in talks with Ofgem to head off collapse as crisis grips the energy market. So far, nine suppliers have gone bust with another four said to be in line to go out of business.

Ofgem last week signalled that it will review how the energy price cap works after a surge in wholesale prices pushed suppliers to breaking point.

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