Jeremy Hunt to ask UK regulators to investigate firms exploiting price rises


eremy Hunt will ask industry regulators what they are doing about any companies exploiting rampant inflation by raising prices.

The chancellor will meet the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and the watchdogs for energy, water and communications on Wednesday. He will press them on whether there is a profiteering problem in their sectors and what they are doing about it, according to a Treasury source.

The meeting with the CMA, Ofgem, Ofwat and Ofcom comes after the Bank of England suggested some retailers were increasing prices or failing to pass on lower costs to consumers as a way of increasing profit margins amid stubborn inflation.

Hunt also confirmed that ministers were talking to the food industry about “potential measures to ease the pressure on consumers”.

Their comments prompted an industry backlash, with the British Retail Consortium, the trade body representing the sector, saying there had been a “regular stream of price cuts” by supermarkets despite “extremely tight” profit margins.

Official figures last week showed consumer prices index inflation failed to ease as hoped in May, remaining at 8.7%.

The Bank of England subsequently raised interest rates to a 15-year high in a shock move designed to tame inflation.

Sunak on Sunday urged cash-strapped Britons to “hold our nerve” over high interest rates as he stressed “there is no alternative” to stamping out inflation.

He said “inflation is the enemy” as he defended the Bank of England’s latest rate rise, even as it piled pressure on mortgage holders.

The chancellor last week agreed measures with banks aimed at cooling the mortgage crisis, including allowing borrowers to extend the term of their mortgages or move to an interest-only plan temporarily.