Doncaster Chamber calls on government to improve support for businesses
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The CEO said that new energy bill relief schemes by the government “will not be enough to keep many of our businesses afloat.”
On Monday, the government announced that the scheme aimed at helping businesses with rising energy bills will be scaled back significantly from April.
The original package gave support of £18 billion during its six months while the new scheme allocates £5.5 billion of support over the course of a year.
Rather than offering a fixed price cap, it will instead apply an automatic discount per-unit on energy prices.
The change equates to an 85 percent drop in financial support for businesses due to there being no maximum price that a company will pay.
Dan Fell, Chief Executive of Doncaster Chamber, responded to the announcement: “Given the state of the public purse, it was only inevitable that the support being offered to our nation’s businesses would eventually have to be stripped back, but this new provision is simply insufficient.
“While we are pleased to see that relief is being continued for another year — and any help in these uncertain times is of course welcome — it will not be enough to keep many of our businesses afloat.
“To use an example from the government’s own website, £403 over the course of an entire financial year is not going to make much difference for a shop that is being faced with so many overwhelming economic challenges.
“This issue is being exacerbated by other factors like rising inflation, supply chain disruptions, as well as worsening gas and electricity prices. It is especially worrying for energy-intensive firms, like factories and manufacturers, many of whom are critical to South Yorkshire’s economy.
“On that note, this is not about giving a handout to businesses at the expense of the taxpayer, as a healthy private sector is needed for our country as a whole to recover. After all, if firms cannot survive the months ahead, then it will be impossible to grow back our wider economy and, in turn, deal with the cost of living crisis.
“Moreover, we also need assurance from government that it will continue to support firms in the long run and that relief will not end abruptly in March 2024. It was already concerning that yesterday’s announcement came so late in the grand scheme of things.
“We would urge government to announce its intentions for 2024 packages of support by October this year at the latest.
“Finally, given that the current economic challenges are not going to abate in 12 months’ time, it is vital that we work towards a longer-term solution. To that end, we are once again calling on the government to implement a progressive energy strategy, one that places an emphasis on renewables, green jobs and supply chain opportunities for UK businesses. Only by having this kind of plan can we avoid such hardships in the future. Given the long-term nature of this challenge, we would urge cross-party working wherever possible.”