Boris Johnson has said “Christmas is on” and insisted people will not struggle this winter.
It came after business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warned families face a “difficult winter” with rising energy bills and cuts to benefits.
A spike in global gas prices has left energy companies struggling and had a knock-on effect on food supply.
Some 4.4 million households on Universal Credit are poised to see their energy bills rise significantly in October – the same month they will typically lose more than 5% of disposable income as the £20-a-week uplift to the benefits payment ends – the Resolution Foundation think tank has calculated.
But speaking in the United States, the prime minister rejected the suggestion the public would suffer.
“I think this is a short-term problem caused by the energy problems, the spikes in gas prices, and like many of the other supply issues we are seeing, including food, are caused by the world economy waking up after a long time in this suspended animation caused by Covid,” he said.
“We will do whatever we can to address the supply issues but this is a short-term problem.”
Speaking to Sky News, Johnson said: “I really don’t think that is justified” when asked about concerns over bills going up, food shortages and jobs being at threat, adding: “Christmas is on.”
Earlier today Kwarteng told the BBC: “It’s a difficult situation, it could be a very difficult winter.
“That’s why, as energy minister, I’m very focused on helping people that are fuel poor.
“Universal Credit, you will know, is an issue for the Chancellor and the Work and Pensions Secretary, I’m speaking to them a great deal about it.”
But he admitted there would be families this winter who would have to choose between eating and heating their homes.