Hunt delays details of business energy support extension

Chancellor wants more time to design replacement of current Energy Bill Relief Scheme – leaving millions of small businesses in limbo

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has delayed any announcement as to what will replace the current business energy support package until the new year.

Previously, the Chancellor was expected to give details on how an extension for the business energy support scheme would be extended post April, as soon as yesterday – the last sitting day of Parliament.

Hunt has concluded he needs more time to look at the design of the new scheme, which will involve a big cut in overall taxpayer support for business. It is also awaiting approval from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

>See also: Energy cost support to be extended for all businesses

The chancellor had said he would give details of the scheme, to run from April next year, by December 31, but on Tuesday he told MPs: “We will bring forward an appropriate package early in the new year.”

The delay will only add to the crushing anxiety felt by most small businesses given galloping inflation, train strikes affecting businesses and post-Brexit worker shortages.

The Chancellor had been expected to announce that any extension of the energy bill support scheme would include all businesses but that the level of bill subsidy could be halved. And that there would be special support for small customer-facing businesses, such as retail, leisure and hospitality.

Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small firms have been asking for certainty on support before Christmas to deal with continued energy hikes, but they are now left in limbo until the new year.

“What’s supposed to be a festive period bringing back the small business spirit has now sadly been stolen by a Grinch government, who’s under the illusion that small firms can plan on a less than three-month horizon and survive this bleak winter without any indication whatsoever whether their energy relief will continue or not.

“Small firms reluctant to turn their heat on are left shivering in the cold by this ambiguity of the Government, which feels stone-cold at this time of the year … the longer this guessing game goes on, the more damage it does to small firms and the millions of jobs and communities that are dependent on them.”

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...