JOHN Swinney has accused the UK government of holding the country to ransom over the cost of living crisis. 

The Deputy First Minister- who is covering the finance brief during Kate Forbes’s maternity cover - said he was facing tough choices because of Whitehall's inaction. 

A crisis meeting between the Prime Minister, Chancellor Nadhm Zahawi, and the bosses of Britain's energy companies on Thursday ended with no new measures being announced.

During the summit, Boris Johnson made clear that it would be for his successor to make any significant fiscal intervention. 

The lack of immediate action came as new forecasts suggested energy bills could surge even higher than thought. 

Consultants Auxilione predicted the price cap could reach £3,628 in October, up from £1,971 today. They said it could then rise again to £4,538 in January and peak at £5,277 in April.

Yesterday, the Scottish Government agreed to undertake an emergency review “to assess any and all opportunities to redirect additional resources to those most in need.”

Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that a farmer in his Perthshire constituency has seen his annual energy bill increase from £50,000 to £200,000.

The minister said: “Unless we have the UK Government intervening in the energy market, we are going to have businesses facing unsustainability and the likelihood of unemployment rising, which of course will add to the burdens on the public.

“We talk to the large energy companies on a regular basis and we will be doing that as part of our engagement with the measures the Scottish Government’s resilience team agreed yesterday.

“But the regulation of the energy market, any specific measures to try and change the price issues that have been faced by businesses or individuals must come from the United Kingdom Government.

“It cannot by law come from the Scottish Government.”

He said the country was being “held to ransom by the fact the Conservative Party is playing out its internal challenges and conflicts.”

“The country needs emphatic and decisive leadership on the question of energy. The energy market is broken and the UK Government is doing nothing,” he added.

There are still another three weeks left in the Conservative party’s leadership contest. It will be September 5 before either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak moves into No 10. 

The Chancellor said that the Treasury has prepared a range of options for tackling the cost of living crisis to help the next Prime Minister hit the ground running.

Mr Zahawi told Sky News: “My message to families today is: we will have those options ready to go.

“Yesterday I met with the industry to look at what more we can do with the industry on direct debit, on pre-payment meters, all the things that families are worried about, we’re making sure we’re doing the work so on September 5 the new prime minister can hit the ground running and get those things into place.”

Asked if extra direct grants to families this winter are inevitable, Mr Zahawi said: “We’re looking at all the options of what additional help we can deliver for families to get them through the winter – £37 billion, we’re midway through that actual delivery.”

Mr Zahawi, questioned about the future of the energy price cap amid concerns it is not protecting consumers, said: “It continues to help protect consumers, but the reason I brought the industry in yesterday was to look at where there is market failure, where can we help more that would actually bring the energy price cap down.”

He added: “The reason the industry came in yesterday partly was to say: ‘Okay, what can we do together if there is market failure for us to bring pressure down on the energy price cap?’

“And there were material suggestions that we’re working up now ready for the new prime minister on that.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak has unveiled a cost of living plan, which includes up to £10 billion of extra support – funded partly through increased borrowing, partly through cuts to government services and partly through the windfall tax on oil and gas giants. 

“The fact is we have days and weeks to act before millions of Britons are left struggling with unaffordable bills,” he said.

“I have set out my plan. It’s here in black and white.

“I call on those rejecting my tried-and-tested method to set out in detail how they would get help to those that need it in time before their bills need paying.”

Ms Truss has suggested she will help households through tax cuts. 

The Foreign Secretary has suggested she could consider further targeted support, but has said she will not “write the Budget in advance”.