Ministers have been urged to extend aid to UK businesses struggling with soaring energy costs beyond the six-month cliff set under the government’s £150 billion support package on Wednesday.
The companies said the energy subsidies would remove the risk of skyrocketing bills in October when many faced contract extensions.
But bosses added that the lack of clarity about what would happen after six months risked hitting the company’s investments. The support for households, on the other hand, runs for two years.
Ministers have said they will look at which sectors are most vulnerable before deciding on additional aid.
Businesses welcomed the pledge of government support that will cap wholesale energy prices by more than half this winter. However, many said the bills would remain much higher than last year due to the price surge following the Ukraine war.
Neil Clifton, chief executive of Midlands-based group Cube Precision Engineering, which makes products for the automotive and aerospace sectors, said his energy bills should have increased from £12,000 in August 2021 to £44,000 this year.
He said government support would cap them at between £23,000 and £25,000, which he described as “not ideal but something we can manage”.
Clifton asked when his utility company would let him know about the new rates and what they would be set at, given the additional costs that could be added to bills, including the base charge.
Craig Beaumont, director of foreign affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said small businesses didn’t know how much their bills were going to rise until their supplier contacts them.
He also raised concerns about future rate hikes and asked why there was no help for groups that signed new deals in February and March.
Nimisha Raja, founder of Nim’s Fruit Crisps, a snacks maker based in Sittingbourne, Kent, said the package “doesn’t help us at all” because the government “has done nothing to address its base fee of £14 a day”.
Lionel Benjamin, co-founder of AGO Hotels, said the package would “only mask the problem for a short time” and that “in the longer term more needs to be done to stop businesses from collapsing”. He added that energy now accounts for almost a third of his group’s operating costs, up from 8-12 percent before the last contract renewal.
Liz Truss, the Prime Minister, said on Tuesday additional aid would be available to pubs after six months but gave no further details on which other sectors could benefit from a new support package.
Sacha Lord, night economics adviser for Greater Manchester, welcomed the promise but said “businesses will still pay more than they are used to” and that “the real concern is whether they can afford to continue trading”. .
Jason Black, director of Cornish Inns, a pub company with four locations across Cornwall, said he faced a more than doubling of his electricity bill to £450 per MWh when the contract for his biggest venue was renewed in October .
That bill is now being halved, while costs at Black’s other three locations are falling by about 15 percent.
He commended the government for doing “the right thing” but said it should “offer more targeted aid to pubs and restaurants as we don’t know what [the consumer downturn] will do it to the people who set out.”
The package also includes organizations such as charities and schools. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said that while the measures “provide a cap on pain funding . . . Schools are still paying far more for their energy than was expected a year ago, with detrimental consequences for education.”