A reduced energy bills support scheme for business is in danger of falling short for thousands of firms, it was warned today.
Under the new plan the Government is providing £5.5 billion support over the 12 months from April 1, 2023. However, the discount firms will get is on wholesale prices rather than their costs being capped – as they are under the current system.
Non-domestic energy customers – including businesses, schools and charities – will receive a discount of £6.97 per megawatt hour (MWh) for gas, and £19.61 per MWh for electricity.
Unveiling the scheme to the House of Commons yesterday evening, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury James Cartlidge said this was the equivalent to a £2,300 saving for a pub or £400 for a small retail store. He said: “It would provide certainty and reassurance for businesses”.
Shadow Treasury Minister Abena Oppong-Asare criticised the plan calling it a “sticking plaster”.
High energy-using manufacturers – such as ceramic producers and steelmakers – will receive a greater discount, equivalent to £7,000 of support over 12 months.
The £5.5bn subsidy package announced is a considerable scaling back from the current scheme, which, according to analysts, is set to cost nearly £18.5 billion in just over six months.
Responding to the announcement, Staffordshire Chambers Chief Executive Sara Williams OBE, pictured above, said: “It is good that the Government will be giving businesses a further discount and we all understand that there isn’t a limitless pot of money.
“The subsidies to the energy intensive sectors are also welcome and the fact that it will last a year helps with planning operations and decisions.
“However, there are still massive issues that the cost of energy raises for companies. Even with a level of support in place, the stress and the uncertainty is taking too much of a toll on businesses – who provide the jobs, salaries, taxes and opportunities for everyone.”
British Chambers of Commerce Director General, Shevaun Haviland, said: “Despite Government efforts, an 85 per cent drop in the financial envelope of support will fall short for thousands of UK businesses who are seriously struggling.
“Many businesses have been fighting for their survival for months, and rising energy costs have fast become the tipping point.
“We understand Government must consider public finances, but any support package, short or long term, should be right for business – otherwise we’re going around in circles. The wrong type of support will continue to see business confidence deplete and Government having to revisit its package.”
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