Commenting on the Government announcement today (9 January) of a new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Businesses have been desperately seeking some certainty ahead of the new financial year, so the Government’s announcement of a two-year provides some clarity about the road ahead.
“Scaling back the support towards energy costs will be a blow for many firms, however, as the cost-of-doing-business crisis that has thwarted them over the past year has been driven predominantly by escalating energy prices that remain at sky-high levels.
“While it was anticipated that support would decrease, this will nevertheless squeeze many companies that are already fighting cost pressures from across the board – also including people, raw materials and fuel – and ultimately affect their ability to invest.
“This should be of great concern to Government given that our Quarterly Economic Survey showed investment intentions for both plant and machinery, and people, among East Midlands firms declined throughout 2022 as confidence nosedived.
“We know the energy crisis is predominantly the result of global headwinds but there is more Westminster can do to restore business confidence by looking at the barriers to business success that we can control.
“We need to ‘get the basics right’, as we have outlined in our regional Business Manifesto for Growth, A Centre of Trading Excellence, by cultivating a wider business ecosystem geared around supporting success.
“This should focus on incentives to invest in people, support certainty for firms by developing a long-term approach to business taxation and regulation, and ensure businesses and communities are digitally and physically connected locally and with the wider world.”