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We're not complacent about energy market risk, British minister says

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has not been complacent about the vulnerability of its retail energy market, which is seeing some suppliers fail in the wake of soaring wholesale gas prices, the business and energy minister said on Thursday.

"We haven't been complacent, the whole point about the supplier of last resort process, which was interrogated last year, is that it's an organised process, well established, which can allow existing strong companies to absorb customers in failure," Kwasi Kwarteng told lawmakers.

He said the solution to the crisis would come from the industry and the markets. "Government will not be bailing out failed energy companies," he said.

Two energy suppliers stopped trading on Wednesday, leaving more than 800,000 customers potentially facing higher bills, and the government has said more will follow.

Kwarteng, however, said supplier failures were a "consistent feature" of the market, and policies were in place to protect consumers when companies collapsed.

He said large companies, which take on customers of failed firms as the supplier of last resort, would not be given subsidies.

"I can categorically say to this house: we will not be giving any grants or subsidies for larger companies," he said.

(Reporting by William James and Paul Sandle; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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