The Daily Telegraph
Businesses press ministers for details over £200bn energy bailout
‘We now need absolute clarity as fast as possible as to who will and won’t be helped. This is essential’
BUSINESS leaders have criticised the Government after being left in the dark over the extent of support they will receive to pay sky-high energy bills.
Details of a support package announced last week by Liz Truss, the Prime Minister, have still not been published and Kwasi Kwarteng, the Chancellor, is not expected to set out the spending plans in full until Sept 22.
Energy industry insiders warned this week that details were needed within days for businesses to benefit from support this winter. Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “We now need absolute clarity as fast as possible as to who will and won’t be helped, depending on the nature of their contracts. This is essential for businesses trying to plan their cashflow requirements in the next few months.”
It is estimated that the energy bailout plan could cost £200bn.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of Ukhospitality, called for clarity “as soon as possible to give hospitality businesses the best chance of survival”.
The Federation of Small Businesses said its members fear a “cliff edge” next spring. Meanwhile, there is confusion over whether the help for businesses – announced last Thursday – can be introduced without legislation, which could delay its rollout, and there are also question marks over the level at which prices will be capped.
The Government has also not yet decided which businesses will receive help with energy bills after an initial sixmonth period of promised support.
Business groups expressed concern that MPS will be unable to properly debate the terms of the multibillionpound package – the biggest intervention since the Second World War.
Mr Barker said: “There should also be an opportunity for MPS to ask questions on behalf of local businesses during a debate where these issues can be raised.” Downing Street made clear that Parliament will be recalled before the end of the month, amid concerns MPS would not be able to debate the energy package at all as a result of the mourning period following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Mr Kwarteng is expected to unveil his long-awaited fiscal event around Sept 22.
Yesterday, Paul Johnson, director general at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said it was “extraordinary” that the Government did not publish how much the Energy Price Guarantee announcement would cost.
“It’s totally untargeted. It gives large amounts of money to people who don’t need it, and it means that we’re not facing the price signal that there is less gas out there.”
Last night, the Resolution Foundation think tank said that the Government’s cost of living measures, including an energy price freeze for households and a cut in National Insurance, would disproportionately benefit the better-off.
They said rich households will get twice as much support as poorer households next year because of the NI cut. The think tank also warned that mortgage payments could rise as interest rates will probably have to increase.
The UK is capping energy bills at £2,500 for average households for two years and protecting businesses for at least six months.