West of England business group in urgent plea to ministers to protect firms from soaring energy bills

August 17, 2022

The government must set out an immediate plan to spur economic recovery, including helping firms pay their spiralling energy bills and easing restrictions on employing overseas workers.

The call has come from Business West, the region’s largest business organisation, which fears more firms will be forced to close down unless ministers take action now.

Phil Smith, pictured, managing director of Business West, which runs Bristol Chamber of Commerce, said despite the current political uncertainty it was vital the government supports businesses.

“The two main choices which would have the most immediate impact would be to reform the Shortage Occupations List to help fill the 1.3m current job vacancies and reduce businesses’ energy costs by expanding the energy bills rebate scheme,” he added.

“With no energy price cap for businesses, this is forcing some businesses to close, so it is imperative that action is taken now.”

His comments came following publication of the latest Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation figure, which showed a further rise to 10.1% – the 10th monthly increase and yet another record high.

“Firms are facing a myriad of issues on top of this, including soaring energy prices which are due to skyrocket during the autumn and will inevitably lead to further struggles,” he added.

“Our recent survey found that over half of firms are telling us they expect to raise their own prices over the next quarter.

“Utilities, labour costs and raw materials are all cited as the main drivers of costs and businesses have been telling us about this inflation shock for over a year now.”

He said this squeeze on businesses’ operating costs was also reflected in the latest Producer Price Inflation figures, which show a 23% rise in the year to July – the highest level since records began in 1985.

“It is crucial that government takes action to support businesses by showing it has plans to aid economic recovery,” he added.

“The autumn Budget will be an opportunity for the new Prime Minister and Chancellor to put in place a plan to help stabilise the economy so businesses can weather the storm.”






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