Businesses will struggle after energy support plea ignored, trade groups warn

Business groups have said their members will struggle to keep their doors open from next month as the Government ignored calls for extra support to help companies pay their energy bills.

Despite extending current support levels for households, the Chancellor did not promise anything new for businesses.

Companies are set to see their energy bills soar from the start of April as the current more generous support package is slashed.

“As April 1 rapidly approaches, businesses are also nervously awaiting what’s next for their energy costs and a lack of support in today’s announcement will have a direct impact on their ability to keep their lights on and doors open,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association.

In an accompanying document, the Treasury said the new support will give businesses a discount on their bills.

However, businesses say it will not be nearly enough. Nearly half of businesses surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said they would struggle to pay their energy bills from the start of April.

This could undermine the Chancellor’s hopes that British businesses will invest more in the economy, BCC director general Shevaun Haviland said.

“Almost half of businesses have told us they will struggle to pay their energy bills from April and they cannot invest when they are fighting to survive,” she said.

“There is little in today’s announcement that will provide comfort to these firms.”

Kate Nicholls, the boss of UKHospitality, said: “Maintaining current levels of energy support to consumers, freezing fuel duty and inflation reducing will help hard-pressed households, and increase disposable income, which will be a huge boost for venues in desperate need of trade.

“This will be particularly needed as the sector is still set to see huge energy price increases when current support ends in April, which unfortunately was not addressed.

“It remains the case that we need to see urgent action on the market failures identified by Ofgem in its non-domestic review update yesterday. The current timeline of further action by the summer is not good enough.”

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