Businesses have been warned that they will have to wait longer than households for financial support with their energy bills amid delays in launching the £150bn support scheme, according to reports.
Prime Minister Liz Truss announced plans to freeze household energy bills from October 1, and said an “equivalent” scheme will be put in place for businesses – but has so far failed to provide any details of how it would work.
Businesses are now increasingly concerned about the likelihood of delays to the arrival of support because fixed energy contracts come to an end in October for hundreds of thousands of firms.
According to the financial Times business leaders had been told by government officials in recent meetings that the support scheme for companies may not be ready until November, but did quote that there was hope that the package could still be initiated next month.
An emergency budget to provide more detail on energy support and introduce winter tax cuts for millions of people is expected from the government late next week, after the country returns to some normality following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Ms Truss has been under pressure from her own party to set out her economic plans as quickly as possible, and the government has confirmed that it would also set out further details of the business support scheme next week.
A government spokesperson said:
“The scheme will support businesses with their October energy bills, including through backdating if necessary.”
The hospitality and licensed on trade has repeatedly warned for weeks that they may not survive the winter as a result of soaring energy bills.
Pubs and brewers are among those raising the alarm that any delay in the government’s support package could force more businesses to close, triggering job losses.
Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of industry body, the British Beer and Pub Association, said:
these businesses “will not be able to wait days, let alone months to get clarity on their energy bill. Many are making decisions now as to whether they will have to close this winter.
“We need urgent clarity on whether this cap will deliver for businesses and help them out of a crisis that has been building for months, and urge the chancellor to seriously consider what immediate reassurance he can give for the thousands of business owners currently in despair.”
Taking to social media UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said “this is because energy plans require legislation, unlike domestic support-and with Parliament going back into recess next week there may be insufficient time to pass it before pricetags take effect October 1 this is why it seems ludicrous to go ahead with conference recess” [referring to a parliamentary session break spanning from 22nd of September to 17th of October 2022]