Firms call for help over surging gas prices

13/10/2021 14:19
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Industries hit by soaring energy costs have made another appeal to the government for action.

Talks with ministers will continue on Monday over a crisis that has sparked warnings about some factories.

Sectors such as ceramics, paper and steel manufacturing have called for a price cap, though talks with government on Friday failed to reach a solution.

The Treasury has denied being in detailed talks with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng about the crisis. 

Dave Dalton, chief executive of the British Glass trade body, called that "very alarming".

He was part of Friday's talks with Mr Kwarteng, but told the BBC the meeting "was very much an introductory one. We did not get to specifics".

Mr Dalton said he had hoped the government would have made progress over the weekend, but that appears not to have happened. "We need immediate action," he said.

He said some members of his group may have to shut production permanently, although no firm had been forced to do so yet.

The nature of glass manufacturing means production cannot be just paused, he said. "We have large furnaces that run 24/7. If you switched a furnace off, you basically destroy the infrastructure.

"It would have to be rebuilt at a cost of tens of millions of pounds," Mr Dalton said.

Mr Dalton said firms had "hedged" by buying gas in advance at lower prices but in some cases those deals were now expiring leaving firms facing much higher costs.

"We have companies that can't cope in the immediate term. And we have other companies that have to feed back to their masters overseas who will make decisions on their investment in the UK. We need a much better way to planning our way through this problem," he said.

Mr Kwarteng will not be involved directly at Monday's talks with industry representatives, according to BBC political correspondent Adam Fleming.

Read the full story here.

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