Energy prices: Government must show more urgency, says Ovo boss

The government is showing “nowhere near enough urgency” in finding a solution to steep increases in gas and electricity prices, one energy boss has said.

Ovo’s boss Stephen Fitzpatrick predicts the rise in wholesale gas prices and its impact on people will be “an enormous crisis for 2022”.

The business secretary met with Ofgem and energy firms on Monday.

The government says it wants to make sure households are protected.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the meeting was “to discuss the ongoing effects of record high global gas prices on the sector”.

“Throughout the meeting there was discussion of the issues facing the sector and an agreement for meetings to continue over the coming days and weeks to ensure UK consumers are protected,” she said.

It is understood that representatives from the Treasury and Number 10 were also present.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who attended the virtual meeting, said his priority was for the government and the regulator to understand how critical the situation is.

He said the main worry was how consumers would be supported through price increases.

“We’ve seen this energy crisis unfold now for the last three months and we’ve watched as energy prices have spiked, fallen back, and spiked again,” he said.

“We’ve had more than 30 bankruptcies in the sector, we’ve had millions of customers forced to change supplier.

“The cost to the consumer has already been more than £4bn. We haven’t seen any action from the government or from the regulator. There’s an acceptance that there’s a problem, but nowhere near enough urgency to find a solution,” he added.

He pointed to the example of some European governments that have helped consumers in their countries.

In recent months, wholesale gas prices have risen to unprecedented levels. Last week, they hit a new record of 450p per therm, which experts think could take average annual gas bills to about £2,000 next year.

On Thursday, Energy UK, the industry’s trade body, warned bills could soar by another 50% unless the government intervened.

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