A new British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) survey has found almost half of SMEs say they will find it difficult to pay their energy bills once the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme ends on 31 March 2023.
A further 4% say they will not be able to pay their energy bills at all, while 37% predict they will find it difficult to pay even when they are in receipt of Government support.
SMEs that renewed their energy tariffs after April 2022 report more difficulties. These firms were more likely to struggle to pay their energy bills going forward with 60% saying they will face difficulties paying after March 2023, and 7% saying they won’t be able to pay at all. Over half (51%) will find it difficult to pay their bills between now and the end of March, during the period of the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme.
Sara Williams, Staffordshire Chambers CEO, pictured above, said: “Staffordshire businesses remain hugely concerned over the cost of energy and it is particularly concerning that almost half of SMEs believe they will face difficulty paying their bills once the Government support package ends in March.
“Perhaps even more concerning is that 4% of SMEs have stated that they will not be able to pay their bills at all come April 1.
“The Government must prioritise support for these businesses that goes beyond the current offering. Cost pressures can be relieved in other ways, including a reform of business rates to compensate firms that see energy support phased out.
“Ofgem needs greater power to regulate the energy market for businesses, which is already hampered by a lack of market competitiveness.
“There is a blatant lack of business confidence and immediate action is needed to help support the business community so that firms can trade into April with increased confidence.”