New “Energy Bills Discount Scheme” for businesses announced
Yesterday (9 January), the government announced a new energy scheme for businesses, charities, and the public sector, ahead of the current scheme ending in March 23. The scheme will mean that all eligible UK businesses and other non-domestic energy users will receive a discount on high energy bills until 31 March 2024.
- The scheme will provide a discount on high energy costs to give businesses certainty while limiting taxpayers’ exposure to volatile energy markets
- Businesses in sectors with particularly high levels of energy use and trade intensity will receive a higher level of support.
This will help businesses locked into contracts signed before recent substantial falls in the wholesale price manage their costs and provide others with reassurance against the risk of prices rising again.
The government provided an unprecedented package of support for non-domestic users through this winter, worth £18 billion per the figures certified by the OBR at the Autumn Statement. This is equivalent to the cost of an increase of around three pence on people’s income tax.
The government has been clear that such levels of this support, unprecedented in its nature and huge scale, were time-limited and intended as a bridge to allow businesses to adapt. The latest data shows wholesale gas prices have now fallen to levels just before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and have almost halved since the current scheme was announced.
The new scheme therefore strikes a balance between supporting businesses over the next 12 months and limiting taxpayer’s exposure to volatile energy markets, with a cap set at £5.5 billion. This provides long term certainty for businesses and reflects how the scale of the challenge has changed since September last year.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said:
“My top priority is tackling the rising cost of living – something that both families and businesses are struggling with. That means taking difficult decisions to bring down inflation while giving as much support to families and business as we are able.
Wholesale energy prices are falling and have now gone back to levels just before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But to provide reassurance against the risk of prices rising again we are launching the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, giving businesses the certainty they need to plan ahead.
Even though prices are falling, I am concerned this is not being passed on to businesses, so I’ve written to Ofgem asking for an update on whether further action is action is needed to make sure the market is working for businesses.”
Here are the links to the communications package