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Energy bills: Businesses will breathe a sigh of relief, says Chamber chief

BUSINESS leaders across Milton Keynes say firms in the region will breathe a sigh of relief after the government announced the freezing of energy bills would be extended to companies.

Prime Minister Liz Truss addressed MPs in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday) to announce an ‘Energy Price Guarantee’ and the commitment that the new Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng will deliver a further fiscal event later this month. 

 But firms will be concerned that the decision to freeze bills for six months would mean the pressure is only eased for a short period, say Chamber of Commerce chiefs.

Louise Wall pictured left, chief executive of the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce said: “Our Chamber has spoken to businesses in recent weeks who were being quoted astronomical figures for their energy bills come October and they could not see a way of continuing, faced with those cost increases.

“They will be breathing a sigh of relief today that, for the short-term at least, their energy bills are going to be frozen.”

“The government now must address the subject of energy bills over the next three months to ward off threats of future energy price rises, she added.

“We understand that this is not solely a domestic issue and that global events are having an impact but, for businesses to be able to plan and invest, they need a degree of certainty and will want to see a wider plan from government on how it plans to revitalise the whole economy.

Shevaun Haviland right, director general of the Chamber’s parent body the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The BCC welcomes this quick and positive intervention from government. It is clear the new Prime Minister has listened to firms and is providing a strong package of support for business, equivalent to the crucial support to consumers. 

“We welcome the breadth of the offer to all non-domestic energy users with businesses, charities and public sector organisations to be included.”

The BCC has previously called for a price cap on energy bills.It says that such a move would give businesses some financial certainty on the outlook for the next six months.

“It is crucial that there is a review at three months so there is time to plan for the end of the six-month period,” said Ms Haviland.  “However, given the other challenges still facing business on labour shortages, supply chain disruption, and rising raw material costs, it is unlikely that we will see greater investment from business in the short-term. 

“If we are to truly revitalise our economy for the difficult months ahead then there must be a clear long-term plan that gives firms the confidence to grow.” 

BCC president Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith added: “We welcome the commitment from the government to review the UK’s long term energy strategy. It is vital to give business confidence on the continuity of their power supplies and future price stability. 

“We must not abandon our Net Zero targets and action must be taken to support business with the switch to more energy efficient technologies and practices. 

“The UK is already a world leader in the development of wind power technology and the shift to a more diverse energy mix involving renewables and nuclear power must remain central to our plans. 

“But this will not happen overnight and using the UK’s oil and gas reserves to ensure our energy resilience during the transition is a sensible path to take, provided this does not jeopardise our Net Zero targets.”

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