Chancellor must help businesses with rising energy bills, groups say

Several business groups told MPs the Government is listening to their concerns – but there has been very little action so far.

22 March 2022

Business groups have called on Rishi Sunak to step in with support to help them manage runaway energy costs as he prepares for Wednesday’s spring statement.

Several business groups, representing both big and small firms, told MPs the Government is listening to their concerns – but there has been very little action so far.

“We argue that, given the scale of the cost increases that businesses are facing, that it would be right for the Chancellor to step in and provide something analogous to that support that was provided to households,” said Paul Wilson, policy director at the Federation of Small Businesses.

He said some rebates could be made through the business rates system, while firms that do not pay business rates could be helped through a discretionary fund.

“I think those kind of interventions would be justified tomorrow at the spring statement, given the scale of the challenges,” he told MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.

Changes could also be made elsewhere to help businesses, Mr Wilson said.

Representatives of bigger companies also called for extra help from the Government.

Last year, the Government had to step in after high energy prices pushed up costs for fertiliser manufacturers, something which would have a knock-on effect on carbon dioxide supplies.

“Whilst we’ve had good engagement with officials and (the) minister and Secretary of State in terms of they listen and understand, what we are not seeing collectively across Whitehall is sufficient action,” said Dr Richard Leese, chair of the Energy Intensive Users Group, which represents large industry.

“So, I’m hopeful for tomorrow that we will see the Chancellor address these points.”

Mr Wilson said his views are “very similar”, having experienced “good engagement” and “good listening”.

He said: “We’ve been talking about these issues for a number of months and we very much understand why so much attention is on domestic consumers, but the test will be what actions are taken tomorrow in light of the severity of the challenges.”

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