(Bloomberg) --

The UK energy industry’s lobby group called on the government to do more to help households and businesses facing excruciating price increases for gas and power this winter.

Energy UK, which represents leading suppliers and generators, wants the state to raise its £400 ($482) support for each household and introduce a program to stabilize prices using government-backed loans, it said in a letter to Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi published on its website.

Many consumers are already struggling to pay their bills amid a cost-of-living crisis that’s also seen food and fuel prices soar, and things could get a lot worse when regulator Ofgem again revises the energy price cap. Average annual bills jumped to £1,971 in April, and analysts at Cornwall Insight warn it could surge again to around £3,600 in October and then exceed £4,250 in January.

“These prices will be unaffordable for far too many households, and swift action to help people with the cost of energy this winter is now crucial,” Dhara Vyas, Energy UK’s director of advocacy, said in the letter.

The energy crunch across Europe is being driven by Russia tightening gas supplies in the wake of its war in Ukraine. Inflation in the UK, which already has some of the highest gas and power prices in the region, has surged to double digits for the first time in 40 years.

Energy UK also called on the next prime minister -- either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss -- to create an expert panel to tackle high retail energy prices and to consider setting up a dedicated Department of Energy to focus on securing supplies, modernizing the power market and delivering net-zero goals. 

Currently, energy falls under the remit of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Ofgem is due to announce the new cap later this month.

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