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Thu 8th Sep 2022 - Liz Truss unveils £150bn UK energy plan but limits business support to six months
Liz Truss unveils £150bn UK energy plan but limits business support to six months: Industry leaders have warned further support needs to come after Liz Truss agreed to cap energy prices for businesses for just six months. The new prime minister today unveiled her £150bn UK energy plan to combat the soaring prices of utility bills. After announcing an annual £2,500 cap for households over the next two years, Truss said businesses will only see their energy costs capped at the same price per unit – or kilowatt hour (kWh) – for the next six months. After that six-month period, ministers plan to offer “focused support” to vulnerable industries, with hospitality one of those specifically mentioned by Truss. Exactly where this support be targeted will be decided over the next three months, in a review led by new business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg. Truss said: “In the meantime, companies with wherewithal need to be looking at ways they can improve energy efficiency and increase direct energy generation.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, tweeted: “Positive plan to start tackling cost of doing business and energy crisis. Really welcome recognition of need for immediate action on commercial energy bills and further support needed to industries like hospitality most at risk – VAT and rate relief quick and effective cash injection. But businesses cannot wait for three months to find out what support is planned, nor can they wait until the end of the price freeze to receive it. Without urgent details who and how it will be targeted, many hospitality biz will be forced to take difficult decisions. We look forward to working closely with the new business secretary on plans to support hospitality recovery to give businesses headroom to survive, return to growth and positive contribution in so many local communities.” Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “We are extremely disappointed at the announcement by the prime minister today. This half measure package is tantamount to support experienced during the pandemic but lacks considerable detail to alleviate current business concerns. We have no time for drip fed support, or to await the impact assessment of incremental measures, this needs to be a concise and immediately accessible package, which is proportionate and scalable. As the first major announcement of the prime minister and chancellor’s tenure, the government has failed businesses today, and with mounting debt across the sector, we will see many have no choice but to consider the future, placing thousands of jobs at risk in the coming weeks without additional support.” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “By committing to an energy price cap for businesses today, the PM has shown she understands just how critical the energy crisis has become for our breweries and pubs, and just how important pubs and brewers are to their communities. This intervention will help thousands of business owners to breathe a little easier over energy bills in the coming winter months. This announcement will avert the immediate threat of the energy crisis for businesses, but we need clarity and assurance for the long-term so our brewers and pubs can plan effectively and thrive at their heart of their communities long into the future. The cost of doing business is still a very real threat for many but we are encouraged by the direction this government is going in. Now we need to hear more on business rates, VAT and keeping beer duty low.” Steve Alton, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, tweeted: "Encouraging news on a six-month equivalent price guarantee for business with a further review of vulnerable businesses with specific reference of ‘local pubs’. As ever, the detail is key, and this must be part of the wider package of support needed to safeguard pubs.” How the plan will be paid for will be laid out by the chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, as part of his fiscal event later this month. Truss also said a new energy supply taskforce will also be set up to negotiate with domestic and international suppliers, to agree long-term contracts that reduce the price they charge for energy.

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