Retail NI hits out at UK government’s ‘pointless’ energy support package

The UK government’s new energy support package for businesses is “inadequate” and “pointless”, says a Northern Ireland retail organisation.

The government is currently lowering energy bills by controlling the wholesale price, which the Retail and Wholesale Organization says is “the main component of businesses’ energy bills”.

That program will end in March, and it was announced on Monday that it would be replaced by an electricity bill subsidy of 1.96 per kilowatt-hour for business customers paying a minimum rate.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said some companies could see bills quadruple under the new program.

“The new business support package is totally inadequate,” he said.

“By moving to a subsidy for energy bills and failing to reach specific sectors or those most affected, the government has extended support to all types of businesses, resulting in subsidy levels that are ultimately pointless.”

“Make no mistake, local businesses will go out of business if the government doesn’t reconsider its approach before April,” Roberts warned.

He also railed against the fact that independent companies don’t get tax breaks here, while English independent companies get a 75% rebate on their tax bill.

“It is not too late for the Chancellor to reconsider the support he is offering, to find practical ways to use it more effectively, to give our members the same level of interest relief as England and to bail out the companies he is effectively serving at the conclusion with his decision,” he said.

On Monday after the program was announced, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said his “top priority” was “managing the rising cost of living”.

“That means making tough decisions to bring down inflation while supporting families and businesses as much as possible,” he added.

He mentioned that wholesale energy prices have now returned to levels just before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The regulation is intended to “provide reassurance against the risk of a renewed price increase”.

“Although prices are falling I am concerned that this is not being passed on to businesses, so I have written to Ofgem asking for an update on whether further action is needed to ensure the market works for businesses,” said Mr Hunt completed. Retail NI hits out at UK government’s ‘pointless’ energy support package

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