Paul Slevin, Executive Chair of Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:
“We share the concern around the announcement of the new energy support package for businesses. While any support is appreciated and welcomed, the new package is undoubtedly a downgrade in support for businesses. The level of support outlined will not be enough to ensure businesses’ survival over the next year and falls below expectations for the private sector.
“A recent British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) poll found that 47% of businesses nationally would struggle to pay their energy bills if the scheme was not extended, with 4% stating they would not be able to afford the bills at all. With this announcement, many businesses will face this reality owing to a smaller funding envelope from Westminster.
“Firms existing on the edge of energy affordability already will struggle come April. There are further questions around the energy intensive industries’ support and their thresholds as this will affect Wales’ larger manufacturers.
“Businesses need greater levels of support over energy to help the economy recover but they cannot do it alone. The Chamber network have outlined the following options for the UK Government to prioritise:
- Increase OFGEM’s powers: Ensure effective competition in the business energy market for non-domestic contracts by extending OFGEM’s regulatory powers to guarantee businesses access competitive fixed rate contracts, and energy providers move swiftly to pass on wholesale price reductions.
- Energy production: Government to bring forward ambitious plans to enable more renewable and sustainable energy production across the UK.
- National energy saving campaign: Government should launch a national campaign with support initiatives for businesses to drive down current consumption through energy efficiency measures, such as green grants and tax incentives.
“This year will be critical for the Welsh and British economy going forward. It is key that businesses obtain the right support to assist economic recovery or face the same issues in 12 months’ time.”