How the gas price crisis is creating another perfect storm - Emma Newlands

The term “perfect storm” has been cited many times in recent years regarding businesses, who have found themselves jumping out of the frying pan into the fire on repeat.

Brexit, the pandemic, the pingdemic, the shortage of HGV drivers – the list of hurdles never seems to end for some. Hospitality, in particular, has found itself speeding from one hurdle to another like a pinball while also being a key part of the economy and society.

Trade body UKHospitality has noted the industry has lost 10 per cent of its businesses, and nearly a third of staff, in the past 18 months.

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And talk of a perfect storm has again reared its head regarding recent issues around gas prices that also highlight related carbon-dioxide production, a key component of the manufacture of certain meats, and carbonated drinks.

There are fears that millions across the UK could be pushed into fuel poverty as a result of spiking energy bills. Picture: John Devlin.
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While action has been taken to help remedy the CO2 issue, the prospect of firms having to hit the “stop” button even temporarily had prompted concern of a domino effect on, say pubs. And on a more trivial, personal level, I was anguished by Irn-Bru producer AG Barr citing the possibility of production issues. “The Bru must get thru” indeed.

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Turning to the consumer side of the energy market, it seems that barely a day can go by without the folding of a smaller firm unable to continue with a business model that was no longer viable, lacking larger players’ hedging against wholesale gas price rises.

Wednesday alone saw Avro Energy and Green Supplier cease trading, following in the footsteps of the likes of Scottish-based People’s Energy. The latter had aimed to eradicate fuel poverty in the UK, and as recently as May had unveiled a string of senior appointments.

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Instead, UK consumers face the prospect of significant energy bill price hikes, likely to push millions into fuel poverty amid already-tightened purse strings – another perfect storm.

And while that is cause for major concern, I have seen some cause for optimism on the business side, having spoken to some drinks-producers in Scotland that have found themselves safeguarded against current CO2 woes, having already moved to producing their own CO2 or obtaining it from sustainable sources.

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“One less thing to worry about,” one boss told me, a welcome silver lining in stormy skies.

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