BUSINESSES in Warwickshire will be ‘squeezed even tighter’ by the government’s decision to cut energy support for firms from April.
Corin Crane, the chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said discounting wholesale prices when costs are high rather than costs being capped, as per the current scheme, would be a further blow to firms in the region.
He said a longer-term strategy was needed, including incentives for businesses to invest in renewable sources of energy.
Mr Crane told The Observer: “We have been calling for the government to give firms clarity on what support will be available once the current package runs out in March. We welcome the announcement and the fact it will last for a year, but the drop-in support means that businesses across our region will be squeezed even tighter.
“Firms are facing challenges left, right and centre and another rise in costs at the start of the next financial year will hit them hard.
“We understand the government has to balance public finances but we also need businesses to have confidence that they can invest and grow over the short, medium and long term.
“Equally, we need a strategy that moves the UK to more renewable and sustainable forms of energy and incentivises businesses that want to invest in those areas. Not only would it bring longer term stability to the energy market, the transition will provide an economic boost.
“It’s vitally important, too, that businesses are supported in reducing their energy consumption to alleviate some of the rising costs.”
Mr Crane did welcome the higher level of support which would be provided to businesses in sectors identified as being the most energy and trade-intensive – something members of the chamber’s Manufacturing, Automotive, Construction & Engineering (MACE) group had called for since the dramatic rise in prices at the beginning of last year.
But he added the UK government was taking a huge gamble on energy and gas prices staying low and if they increased to the levels seen last summer, the £5.5billon support package would be wiped out fast.