Energy prices crisis: Harrogate MP wants decisive Government action as consumers and businesses feel the pain

Harrogate’s MP has called on customers to be put at the heart of the Government’s response to the country’s unprecedented energy crisis this winter.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 4:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 4:22 pm
Harrogate & Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones has called for consumers to be protected from the worst of gas price rises.

Harrogate & Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones has called for consumers to be protected from the worst of gas price rises as the Harrogate Advertiser joins with its fellow JPIMedia titles to launch a ‘Keep us warm this winter’ campaign.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson still attempting to reassure the nation that the impact of soaring gas prices on daily life would be short-lived, Andrew Jones said ministers had to take decisive action to support domestic energy customers and businesses.

The Harrogate and Knaresborough MP said: “It isn’t unusual for gas prices to fluctuate but wholesale prices have increased almost three times.

“My concern here is to protect the consumer, particularly those people who are less well-off, from steep and sudden increases in costs for heating.

“I have stressed to ministers that consumers - our constituents - need to be central in our thinking.

“There is the immediate problem which the Government needs to address of stopping small businesses going to the wall and stopping steep price rises for consumers.

“But there is also the question of how we future-proof our energy requirements so that the vagaries of demand and supply of fossil fuels don’t have the effects we are seeing now.

"This is the agenda I am urging ministers to get a firm grip on and take decisive action now to prevent further similar problems in years to come.

“The current situation illustrates why the reliance on fossil fuels for our heating needs to change.”

Mr Jones’ comments come as the Harrogate Advertiser this week joins with its fellow JPIMedia titles across the country to launch our ‘Keep Us Warm This Winter’ campaign.

Government officials have been holding urgent talks with energy suppliers to understand how wide-reaching the impact of rising prices could be on households and businesses, and to explore possible solutions.

But already nearly 1.5 million customers have been hit in just two weeks by the impact of soaring gas prices on the smaller energy providers.

Yesterday, Wednesday, saw two more companies - Avro Energy and Green - cease trading with 830,000 combined customers face being switched to a potentially more expensive, provider.

And the sharp rise in wholesale gas prices in recent days has also resulted in CO2 shortages for food suppliers.

Andrew Jones MP said he understood the Government's predicament over energy and supplies but the bigger picture had to be addressed.

Although he had been reassured that the country would see out the winter, the current scenario showed why Britain had to end its reliance on fossil fuels.

Mr Jones said: “Already four small companies have ceased trading and their customers transferred on to new tariffs – often at a higher cost – with a new company.

“It isn’t an easy circle to square but I know the Government has a will to make this work. Ministers are looking at all the options including loans for the affected companies.

“I am assured though that, while gas reserves are lower than normal because of increased demand, there is absolutely no possibility of the UK running out of gas reserves.

“There are though other ‘knock-on’ effects of the increase in wholesale gas prices.

"Some products are manufactured in an energy-intensive way – fertiliser is a good example. So products like food that need fertiliser to produce them may see an increase in price.

"This is only one example but there are many more.

"The situation demonstrates why the reliance on fossil fuels for our heating needs to change.

"We need to do more to build houses that cost less to heat and use modern technologies such as heat pumps, micro-generation and solar panels.

"We also need to accelerate a programme of retro-fitting of older properties which rely on gas boilers to ensure that they are not left behind.

"Such a programme won’t just be cheaper for the consumer – it will be greener, too."