BCC urges Government to offer businesses immediate support amid soaring bills
The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has urged the Government to give energy regulator Ofgem further powers to strengthen regulation of the energy market for businesses facing soaring bills.
The business group said action must be taken quickly to "protect businesses, livelihoods and jobs" in a letter to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and both leadership candidates for the Conservative Party.
Over the last 18 months, BCC said its research has shown unprecedented inflationary pressures on businesses, with two thirds of firms in Q2 2022 expecting further price rises. Energy bills, raw materials, and labour costs are all cited as the top drivers of price rises.
In January, BCC found that 23% of businesses surveyed were looking to scale down or even consider closure in response to rising costs.
"The Government should hand more power to energy regulator Ofgem, cut VAT and introduce pandemic-style emergency grants in order to help businesses facing rocketing costs", the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has said.
In the letter, the BCC said national insurance contributions should be reversed to hand more funds back to firms and workers. It also said that the Government should immediately review and reform the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to help bring down wage pressures and fill staffing vacancies.
The BCC five-point plan to support businesses includes the following measures:
- Ofgem to be given more power to strengthen regulation of the energy market for businesses
- Temporary cut in VAT to 5% to reduce energy costs for businesses
- Covid-style support by introducing Government Emergency Energy Grant for SMEs
- Temporarily reverse NICs and put money back into the pockets of businesses and workers
- Government to immediately review and reform the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to help bring down wage pressures and fill staffing vacancies
Director General of the BCC, Shevaun Haviland, said: "Today I have written to the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and both Conservative Party leadership candidates expressing my concern for businesses and households during these challenging times.
"In June, we gave the Government until the Autumn budget to get its house in order, but the latest economic projections released since then have been worse than expected. We simply cannot afford to see another month of the same old news. The problems are well understood. We at the BCC are offering solutions. It is now over to the Government to take action to protect businesses, livelihoods and jobs."