PM ‘to back state loan plan to support businesses during energy crisis’

The Treasury had denied having been in talks with the Business Department, leading to fears a package of support would not forthcoming.

Pa Reporters
Tuesday 12 October 2021 05:29
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly backing the loan scheme (Jacob King/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly backing the loan scheme (Jacob King/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reportedly back plans to loan millions to help industries hit by the rise in global gas prices.

High energy costs have led to fears of businesses shutting factories or going to the wall, with the Business Secretary submitting a formal bid to the Treasury for assistance.

Kwasi Kwarteng issued the request to help prop up businesses at risk over winter on Monday, and The Times has reported the multi-million-pound series of state loans is backed by Mr Johnson.

The paper said companies threatened with closure would be given loans to prevent them from shutting down over the winter, and to stop thousands of jobs being lost.

The Treasury had previously denied having been in talks with the Business Department, leading to fears a package of support would not be forthcoming.

Mr Kwarteng held talks with industry leaders last week, and ministers and officials are set to continue speaking to businesses throughout this week.

He has pledged to keep the energy price cap in place to help households struggling with rising costs.

But no new support for businesses had been promised, despite bosses and some Tory MPs calling for help to prevent them going under as wholesale prices soar.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Industries including ceramics, paper and steel manufacturing are thought to be among the worst hit.

The Times said Mr Johnson wanted to see the loan scheme put in place quickly despite concerns from chancellor Rishi Sunak.

It comes as Tory frontbencher Lord Agnew of Oulton said soaring energy costs were nothing to do with supply shortages, but were due to a “geopolitical move” by Russia to put pressure on Europe.

The Treasury minister’s comments appeared to go further than the Government has gone before in pointing the finger directly at Moscow for the current crisis.

And it follows claims Russia had been limiting gas supplies in a bid to prod regulators in Europe into moving quickly to certify the controversial new Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

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