UKHospitality has given its verdict on the government’s new Energy Bills Discount Scheme – insisting the programme will provide relief but isn’t “sector-specific” enough.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said this morning: “It was crucial for hospitality businesses to receive an extension to energy support, which has been a vital lifeline for many this winter.
“While I’m relieved the Chancellor has listened to UKHospitality’s concerns and extended the scheme as a whole, the absence of a sector-specific package that helps vulnerable sectors like hospitality will still result in higher bills. Our analysis shows the new, lower level of support will see a total £4.5 billion hike in bills for the sector compared to the previous scheme.
“This will simply be unsustainable for many. With no further, dedicated support for a vulnerable sector like hospitality, I’d urge the government to consider other measures it can take to help the sector. One measure in particular that would make a significant difference would be increasing the business rates relief cap.
“For those suppliers to hospitality in the wider food and drink sector that have received additional support, we expect them to support the sector accordingly in their pricing.
“Now we have some clarity on the future of energy support, we must see a concerted change in behaviour by energy suppliers, who have been unfairly treating businesses with outlandish quotes and unjustifiable demands for enormous deposits or pre-payments. Government must act swiftly if this is not forthcoming.”
Ms Nicholls said the scheme is a significant investment from the government and energy suppliers should not be using that as an excuse to hike up prices.
“The Ofgem review into the non-domestic market should serve as a wake-up call to suppliers that now is the time to be reasonable with the quotes they’re offering and to abandon unfair demands of businesses to secure fixed deals.
“They should also consider allowing businesses to renegotiate if they are stuck on previously agreed, inflated fixed deals.
“This is an extremely challenging period for the UK’s hospitality sector, which is so important to the economy and communities, and it’s essential the sector gets through it as best it can. If it does, I’m confident we can reach a situation where hospitality will return to generating economic growth, delivering hundreds of thousands of jobs, and investing in Britain’s high street and communities. This is all while it contributes billions to Treasury revenues.”