Mr O’Shea also suggested measures such as suspending VAT on energy bills and financial support for the most vulnerable customers. He insisted British Gas, the UK’s biggest supplier with about 9m customers, “hasn’t asked for a bailout, we don’t want a bailout and we oppose any bailouts”.
While a global gas supply shortage is the main factor pushing up wholesale prices, UK energy policy over several years – such as the price cap, lax market regulation amid efforts to encourage competition, and the closure of storage facilities – has contributed to the problem.
Ms Rudd endorsed a report by the Competition and Markets Authority in 2016 that claimed customers were overpaying by about £1.7bn a year. The watchdog recommended a price cap for the roughly 4m customers on prepayment meters, considered the most vulnerable. At the time, Ms Rudd said: “This is a wake-up call to the big six [energy providers].”
The prepayment cap was introduced in 2017 but Theresa May, who succeeded Mr Cameron as prime minister, subsequently went much further, introducing a price cap on default tariffs covering about 15m households in England and Wales.
Ms Rudd also supported efforts to boost competition in the markets, and was in favour of onshore fracking for natural gas. She has been building a career in the private sector since leaving government in 2019.
Ms Rudd became home secretary under Mrs May but resigned in April 2018 in the wake of the Windrush scandal, when Caribbean immigrants were wrongly threatened with deportation.
She resurfaced as work and pensions secretary seven months later before quitting the cabinet in late 2019 in a row over Brexit, and decided not to fight again for her Hastings and Rye seat in the November 2019 election.
In October it emerged she was quitting her role as an adviser at public relations firm Teneo to move to rival Finsbury Glover Hering, founded by her brother Roland Rudd. She also chairs the international advisory group of the UK arm of Equinor, Norway’s state-owned oil company.
Ms Rudd will join Centrica’s board on Monday, taking up a seat on the safety and environment committee as well as the pay committee.