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Small firms left in the cold this Christmas with delays on Post-March energy support announcement

(Adobe Stock)

Responding to news that the publication of the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) Review will be delayed to the new year, Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:

“Four days before Christmas, there’s still no confirmation from the Government on whether small firms will continue to be supported on soaring energy bills after the current EBRS ends on March 31 next year. Small firms have been asking for certainty on support before Christmas to deal with continued energy hikes, but they are now left in limbo until the new year.

“What’s supposed to be a festive period bringing back the small business spirit has now sadly been stolen by a Grinch government, who’s under the illusion that small firms can plan on a less than three-month horizon and survive this bleak winter without any indication whatsoever whether their energy relief will continue or not.

“Small firms reluctant to turn their heat on are left shivering in the cold by this ambiguity of the Government, which feels stone-cold at this time of the year. It is also causing nightmares to owners of local pubs, independent launderettes and small knitting shops worrying that this Christmas could be their last.

“This is not the time to play around with vital support schemes that are giving businesses a fighting chance in the new year. All small firms want is the Government’s continuing energy support – one that takes business size into account and applies directly to bills – after the current scheme ends.

“It can’t be stressed enough that small firms have typically lower margins and least able to deal with fresh interest rate hikes, rampant inflation and consumers cutting back. That’s why energy support can’t be a purely sector-based decision targeted at only a handful sectors, which will lead to deadweight and unfairness.

“If Government is serious about keeping small firms away from the brink of collapse, now is the time to act. The longer this guessing game goes on, the more damage it does to small firms and the millions of jobs and communities that are dependent on them.”