Business groups demand detail of energy bills package amid fears support could be delayed

Business groups in Scotland have demanded detail of energy bills package amid fears support could be delayed.

Ministers have promised information on the support scheme for businesses struggling with energy bills next week, with a promise to backdate that help in October if it faces delays.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said on Wednesday that the Government “will confirm further details of the business support scheme next week”.

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Businesses have in recent days expressed concern about having to wait longer than households for help on soaring energy costs.

Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to reveal details of the support package next week, with a delay for businesses.
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The spokesman said: “We will confirm further details of the business support scheme next week.

“The scheme will support businesses with their October energy bills and that includes through backdating if necessary.”

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It comes amid companies being warned that they will have to wait longer than households for help from its £150bn energy package, due to the difficulty of launching a support system before November.

The delay has increased anxiety among business leaders, with hundreds of thousands reaching the end of their fixed- price energy contracts at the end of the month.

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Speaking to The Scotsman, several business groups called for more detail on the support package, with the UK government yet to say how it will be funded.

Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Done in the right way, the support promised to small businesses will be a lifeline for this winter.

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“However, there are still many details missing, which small business owners need answers to in order to be able to plan ahead.

"Last week’s statement appears to leave a number of questions unanswered, including:

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"What will be the fixed unit prices (and standing charges) from October 1?

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"What practically will now change – will energy retailers suspend high quotes and contract offers and recalculate from October 1?

"Will those who have accepted hugely increased bills in recent weeks be able to renegotiate to bring their bills down to reasonable levels?

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"As a small business normally gets quoted for at least 12 months, does that new quote include six months at a low rate and six months at a high uncapped rate? How does the energy retailer know who to quote extra support to, for the second six-month period?"

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The cost of doing business has skyrocketed due to a spike in global energy and commodity prices, supply chain bottlenecks and extra taxes.

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“The UK Government’s promise of support for firms with spiralling energy bills is very welcome, however we need to see the detail soon.

“In addition to blunting the spike in energy costs we also need action from the UK and Scottish governments on other costs burdening retailers, including business rates, which would also aid their efforts to keep prices down for consumers.”

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Downing Street is actively looking to slim down the upcoming House of Commons recess period as the Government seeks to take action over the energy crisis.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are looking at changing the recess dates.”

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A Government spokesperson said: “Officials are working at pace to ensure that support is delivered to businesses in a timely manner.

"Details of the scheme and implementation timings will be announced as soon as able.”

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