Tuesday, October 4, 2022

‘Not before time’, says BCC of Government’s plans for business energy prices

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, has called for swift action to pass on energy savings to business as quickly as possible, after months of pressure for Government action.

She said: “For months we have been calling for Government intervention to help businesses with eye watering energy costs. This support package is significant and will ease the cost pressures that have been piling up on businesses. It will allow many firms that were facing closure, or having to lay off staff or reduce output, to keep going through the winter.

“The exact level of support will vary greatly from business to business depending on the detail of its contract, so some will inevitably do better than others.

We now need action to get this saving passed onto business as soon as possible – every day will put some firms closer to the edge and they cannot hang on much longer. There must also be effective legal oversight to ensure no firms that are due this money miss out.

For those that will benefit, six months support is not enough for most firms to make plans for the future.

We understand there are a range of unknowns for the Government in looking ahead, but without that reassurance very few firms will make plans to invest or grow. 

Some businesses will still struggle to meet their bills despite this government intervention, the Chancellor must prioritise those firms in his mini-budget on Friday.

There are a range of other challenges that must be addressed including labour shortages, supply chain disruption, and rising raw material costs.

“To truly revitalise our economy for the difficult months ahead then there must be a clear long-term plan that gives business the confidence to grow.

MEANWHILE, Gareth Stace, Director General of UK Steel, said: The Business Secretary’s announcement today demonstrates that this new Government understands the sheer scale of the issue and the need to deliver a significant solution swiftly. Setting a price cap for electricity at £211/MWh for six months gives foundation sectors, such as steel, the chance to get through the winter by giving us a competitive business landscape. The Government has clearly listened to sectors such as steel, estimated the enormity of the challenge that energy intensive sectors face, and today has delivered.

“It is essential that Government is now ‘fleet of foot’ if the situation develops further to ensure that British business is competitive within Europe and across the World. If we have parity on energy prices, then we can make steel competitively and provide well-paid and highly skilled jobs in areas of the UK where governments have more recently looked to level up.

“The Government must now move to rapidly reform the energy market to ensure longer-term competitive price beyond the current price cap. The steel industry stands ready to work with Government to demonstrate the benefit that the announcement today will have on our foundation sector and to reform the energy market so that we are not in the same position this time next year.”

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