Minister calls for action from Westminster to save Welsh businesses from soaring energy bills
Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, has demanded the UK Government takes immediate action to reduce the growing cost of energy and fuel on businesses across Wales.
The call comes as many commercial energy bills are poised to rise more than fourfold this autumn.
Welsh Ministers have consistently called on the UK Government to act by introducing measures that will help support people during this crisis.
Earlier today the outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a “huge amount” of help for households had already been promised and his successor – either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak – would provide further support.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has already criticised the UK Government’s “failure to address this crisis”, calling for an emergency budget to raise windfall taxes on energy companies’ profits and freeze prices.
On Wednesday, Mr Gething is convening an urgent meeting with Welsh business representatives to hear directly about the pressures they are facing.
“The cost of living crisis engulfing the UK is having a significant impact on families across the country,” the minister said.
“We’re also facing a cost of business crisis, with businesses across Wales facing increasingly unbearable pressures because of soaring energy and fuel bills.
“Our businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. They provide the jobs people rely on for their livelihoods. As Wales’ Economy Minister, my immediate priority is to do what I can to protect our economy and the people who work within it.
“That’s why I am demanding that the UK Government steps up and takes immediate action now, by using the powers only they have at their disposal to intervene in this crisis.
“They must bring forward measures to reduce inflation and provide the significant additional help people and businesses need.
“Unless they act now, they risk inflicting significant harm on the Welsh economy. This cannot be allowed to happen.”
Calls for the incoming prime minister to address rising costs are becoming increasingly urgent, with school leaders warning that without more funding children’s education would be damaged due to redundancies, larger classes and cuts to the curriculum.
Former Tory education secretary Kenneth Baker told The Guardian: “Some schools are bound to go in the red…
“We’re heading into a really ghastly two-year period and it’s going to require remarkable leadership to come out of this smiling”.
The Government has been accused of being missing in action amid resounding warnings that people are facing a dire winter.
Critics have pointed to the contrast with emergency measures being taken by European governments to deal with soaring energy bills.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday pledged to reform the European electricity market to help curb prices for customers.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has insisted he has been working tirelessly to come up with proposals for either Tory leadership candidate for more cost-of-living support.
He is travelling to the United States this week to seek cooperation on tackling the crisis with top bankers and US government officials, saying: “These global pressures must be overcome through global efforts”.
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