Business organizations have praised the government’s attempt to mitigate the effects of skyrocketing energy prices but have cautioned that there is still uncertainty.
Liz Truss outlined a strategy on Thursday to help businesses and people with their energy costs.
Prices for businesses will be restrained for six months, and “vulnerable sectors” may receive further support.
However, some businesses are still unsure about several things, including how much and how long they will receive support.
Vicky Foster, owner of Studio 58 Hairdressers in Penwortham, Preston, claimed that due to a new contract she had to negotiate, her energy costs will increase from £277 per month to £890.
During the chilly winter months, her hair salon must keep the heating on. She explained, “I have customers sitting with wet hair; they need to be kept warm.”
When Vicky’s contract was due for renewal, she claimed to have experienced a “hugely stressful couple of months” trying to manage her energy expenditures. She ultimately decided to take a chance on a three-year contract because it appeared to be the most economical choice.
She explained, “That’s what made me feel nauseous.” “I’ve been getting nighttime wakings. I have never felt this anxious.
Vicky is concerned that if energy prices drop again, she’ll be stuck with a high energy bill.
And she already had to charge her customers more to cover the additional expenses.
We had to raise the pricing, she explained. It is yet unclear whether people will pay.
Will people cut corners on their hairstyles in light of the ongoing pressure on living expenses and efforts to save money? She spoke.
Vicky noted that it wasn’t yet clear which businesses will be classified as “vulnerable” and whether those that had repaired their energy contracts will still receive government assistance.
The energy expenses for Rob Bowman’s Refrigeration Specialists company, which assembles refrigeration services for industrial and commercial clients, have doubled in the last three years.
He claimed that although government assistance would decrease the increase in energy costs, those costs would still go up.
He predicted that things would deteriorate rather than improve. “In six months, it will be considerably worse. The economy is just going to collapse if that assistance is removed.”
Rob continued, “I feel like we’re going down a giant chute into a large pit. We are in peril, and small companies ought to stand up and say so clearly.
Businesses will receive support for six months – is that enough?
The program to lower energy expenses for businesses will last for six months, and it will be reviewed in three months to determine where the most support is needed.
Families will receive assistance for two years.
In contrast to homes, businesses have not historically put price caps on their invoices. Without a solution to relieve the stresses, some businesses had warned that their energy costs may increase by up to 500%.
Additionally, it is unclear for which industries the support for firms will be expanded, which makes cost planning challenging.
The Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), which includes businesses like producers of steel, chemicals, and glass, directed Arjan Geveke to believe that the six-month timeframe was predicated on the presumption that wholesale
But this may not always be the case, he added.
The war in Ukraine, which saw Russia drastically curtail its gas supply to Europe, has further fueled the rise in wholesale energy prices as economies recover from Covid.
Gas prices have increased as a result, even in the UK.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has cautioned that once the support ends, businesses may face difficulties.
“This must not lead to a cliff-edge after six months, with the withdrawal of support to all except ‘vulnerable’ designated industries, sectors, or types of business,” stated chairman Martin McTague.
What is a ‘vulnerable’ firm?
After the initial six months, Ms. Truss said in a statement to MPs outlining her plan, “we will provide extra help to vulnerable industries, such as hospitality, including our local pubs.”
She said that she and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the secretary for business, will consult with the industry to determine where the increased funding should be focused.
What constitutes a “vulnerable” corporation, however, is unclear.
The government has been asked to take energy-intensive industries into account in the study, despite the focus on pubs.
Energy rates might rise even further, Mr. Geveke warned, placing the firms he represents at a “major competitive disadvantage internationally.”
The FSB stated that a fair evaluation of whether enterprises should be eligible for additional support during the three-month review is necessary.
According to a spokeswoman, “there is talk of continuing to support fragile sectors or specific small enterprises.” “Well, a great deal of them are weak. If they’re consuming a lot of electricity, all of them.”
What transpires if a company has already set its energy prices?
In recent months, some companies, including Vicky Foster’s, have already signed fixed pricing contracts at high costs.
What happens to them is currently unknown, but according to the BBC, the Department for Business will release additional information next week.
The government has stated that the assistance for companies will be “equal” to the offer made to domestic customers, although it has not yet provided any additional information.
Keith Anderson, CEO of Scottish Power, stated that numerous in-depth discussions with the government are still ongoing.
“Due to the variety of businesses, industries they operate in, and contracts they have, some of the intricacies are still being worked out, and the business market is much more complicated as a result.
But I believe we will soon be able to connect with each of the interested companies and see the specifics of it.
More details are required, according to the FSB.
“There are concerns about what will happen to consumers who recently switched to a fixed tariff that is quite expensive. Would they be eligible for this cap’s benefits or would they be excluded? “according to an FSB spokesman.
“Supporting small business seems like a really important, game-changing decision.
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