You’re reading Reaction. To get Iain Martin’s weekly newsletter and full access to the site, sign up for a free 30-day trial here. Kwasi Kwarteng has sought to reassure Brits fearful of soaring winter fuel bills that the energy price cap which “protects millions of consumers” will “remain in place,” as the gas crisis intensifies. “Consumers come first”, the Business Secretary insisted. But he also promised that ministers were looking at ways to protect energy firms struggling to cope amid skyrocketing wholesale gas prices.

The price energy suppliers pay for gas has hit record highs, having increased by 250 per cent since January, with a 70 per cent rise in August alone.

Many smaller UK energy firms are on the brink of collapse. Four suppliers – Money Plus, Utility Point, People’s Energy and PFP – have already gone bust this month, with many more expected to suffer the same fate in the coming days. An estimated one million customers could be left without a supplier in the next fortnight. At the start of 2021, there were 70 energy suppliers in the UK; now, industry sources are warning there could be fewer than 10 left by the end of this year.

What is causing the crisis?