Chiefs from industries ranging from energy to hospitality have told the business secretary that inflationary pressures exacerbated by the war in Ukraine risk sending prices surging for cash-strapped British households.
Sky News understands that Kwasi Kwarteng hosted a call with trade association bosses on Tuesday on which he was told that their members were facing unprecedented cost pressures.
Sources said that among those who attended the virtual meeting were executives representing the building materials, energy, hospitality and retail industries.
Mr Kwarteng is understood to have been warned that supermarkets would be unable to hold back the price of everyday grocery items such as bread, with wheat among the commodities impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while soaring wholesale gas prices risk sending industrial users’ energy costs to record levels, according to one person familiar with the discussion.
Building materials costs are also spiking, Mr Kwarteng was told, according to the person.
The CBI, Federation of Small Businesses and British Chambers of Commerce were also on the call.
The business secretary told the House of Commons on Wednesday that he was exploring options to “end the 4% of gas we get from Russia” following Britain’s decision to join the US in banning oil imports from the country.
Boris Johnson is expected to confirm details of a new energy independence strategy next week, with reports suggesting that the prime minister will reopen the door to fracking as well as issuing a new round of North Sea exploration licences.
The surge in gas prices has left taxpayers exposed to a sharp rise in the cost of funding the operations of Bulb, the energy supplier which collapsed last year, Sky News reported this week.
The Treasury has been contacted for comment on its response to rising inflation.