The British Ceramic Confederation, which represents major ceramic tableware manufacturers, is calling for urgent Government intervention to protect the industry from gas shortages.
The Confederation is warning that UK supplies of gas have been running perilously low and that the consequences are harming firms.
Temporarily running out of gas altogether would be disastrous for many producers, claims the group – and its message is backed by the British Chambers of Commerce.
Dr Laura Cohen, chief executive of the British Ceramic Confederation, said: “In March there were times when there was almost no spare gas in the UK – and we believe supply interruptions are inevitable in future unless action is taken immediately.
“The Government needs to intervene to ensure there is extra gas storage in the UK…uncertainty over supply has led to terrible price volatility and that makes investment in new equipment and jobs extremely difficult.”
Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy and external affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Large-scale investment in plant is often dependent on stability and having confidence in the future. How can these industries be expected to create jobs and wealth if there are serious concerns about the fuel on which they depend?
“The Government has to work with suppliers to come up with a way of protecting provision and ironing out damaging price volatility. Significant investment in storage has to be investigated as a matter of urgency.”
The TUC also supports the calls of the British Chambers of Commerce and the British Ceramic Confederation.
Nicola Smith, head of economics and social affairs at the TUC, said: “The Government has to step in to reduce the damage threshold and minimise price volatility.
“Uncertainty over gas supplies hampers employment at a time when we need every job we can get. If the politicians are serious about rebalancing the economy, then they need to pay more than just lip service to industry.
“Thousands of manufacturers are dependent on gas, so supply interruptions could have a really significant effect on businesses and jobs.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is reviewing whether it needs to intervene in the UK gas market and, if so, what form that intervention should take. A decision is expected this month.