Boris Johnson has said there is a “limit to the amount of taxpayers’ money” that can be used to address rising bills ahead of launching a long-awaited energy strategy.
The government will publish its Energy Security Strategy on Thursday to help tackle soaring energy prices and reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas.
But the prime minister signalled the strategy would not be the fix-all some have hoped it could be as the energy price cap rises this month, with the average family’s energy bills rising by 54%.
The PM said: “We will do everything we can to help people with the energy price spikes, which are a global thing, they are being exacerbated by what Putin is doing in Ukraine. We’ll have to see how long that goes on for.
“But, as we did during COVID, we will make sure we look after people to the best of our ability.
“Now, we’ve got to be frank with people, there’s a limit to the amount of taxpayers’ money we can simply push towards trying to deal with global energy price spikes.
“What we can do is make sure that we fix some of the long-term problems and I think it was a great mistake not to invest long-term in nuclear power. And I’ll be saying a lot more about that tomorrow.”
He added that it is possible to be “more urgent” in rolling out some renewable power generation.
Wind, hydrogen and nuclear power are set to feature heavily in tomorrow’s energy plan, with an announcement for the building of six smaller modular nuclear reactors, which take less time to build than full nuclear reactors, expected.
But the plan will also see ministers seeking to expand the UK’s own gas and oil supplies by pumping more from the North Sea as part of a plan to wean the UK off Russian oil and gas and an interim measure to reduce reliance on hydrocarbons altogether.
Fracking is also expected to be mentioned in the plan to be more self-reliant, with the business secretary commissioning a survey on Tuesday to “advise on the latest scientific evidence around shale gas extraction”.
As food and energy prices rise, Mr Johnson acknowledged households will face choices to make ends meet.
“We in the government will do everything that we can to help,” he said.
The PM said the government is helping households by providing a £22bn package of measures to support them “through what are unquestionably tough times caused by the end of the pandemic, the global inflation problem, the energy price spike”.
He added the “most important thing” that could be done right now is to have a “strong, robust economy in which you have a high level of security in your employment”.