Essex businesses worry about impact of rising energy costs: A number of Essex businesses have expressed serious concerns relating to the steep rises in their energy bills with further increases inevitable with the energy price cap rise of 54% due in April 2022. With the increase in the BoE base rate from 0.25% to 0.5% and inflation set to rise to an eye-watering 7.25% by spring, business leaders in Essex have categorically stated it is increasingly looking unsustainable to continue doing business.
The Essex Chambers of Commerce wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in February asking to consider introducing a price cap not only for SME’s but also across national and multinational companies, thus prioritising business recovery and assisting to address one of the numerous pressures faced by the Essex business community.
We have now received a response from the Rt Hon Greg Hands, MP, Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, recognising the difficult position that many businesses are in with the continued impact of COVID-19 and rising energy prices. However, there are no plans to introduce an energy price cap for businesses. The price cap on domestic default variables tariffs was put in place to address the loyalty penalty and prevent consumers from being overcharged. There is a greater diversity of supply arrangements for businesses compared to the domestic sector. Businesses are therefore better placed to effectively procure goods and services for their business, including energy supply.
Nevertheless, the Government recognises that the hospitality and leisure sectors have been particularly hard hit and is introducing a new temporary business rates relief in England for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties for 2022-23, worth almost £1.7 billion. Over 90% of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive at least 50% off their business rates bills in 2022-23. Reform of business rates will make the system fairer, more responsive and more supportive of investment. The proposals set out will collectively reduce the burden of business rates in England by over £7 billion over the next five years
Businesses can contact the Government Business Support Helpline for free advice at email@example.com or 0800 998 1098.
We are working with the British Chambers of Commerce in creating a pack on cost pressures including energy prices which will be used to escalate the matter to government and local MPs to help them understand the current crisis and potential solutions. There is a clear message to the government that whilst we accept sanctions are necessary, there is a clear need to mitigate some of the consequences, which will affect businesses, SMEs in particular.