Lord demands probe into withheld energy support

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

One crisis to another: Sacha Lord fears many businesses will fail as support is withdrawn
One crisis to another: Sacha Lord fears many businesses will fail as support is withdrawn

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Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord has demanded a fast-track investigation into why energy support for hospitality businesses has been withheld.

Operators who have spoken to Lord stated they haven’t yet received any of the Government-pledged support they are entitled to since it was introduced in September last year, and now fear they will miss out altogether once reductions are brought in from the end of March, as announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

It has been widely reported many operators will be unlikely to withstand the increased financial burden the expected energy prices will bring, on top of existing Covid loan repayments due.

Next quarter too difficult

Lord, who will meet with MPs next week to discuss the issue, believes the next quarter will be too difficult for some. He said: “Pubs, bars and restaurants have been most damaged by the economic turbulence of the past three years and support is now being pulled from under businesses that are only just beginning to recover.

“I’m hearing from pubs where monthly energy bills are exceeding rent payments and others who have temporarily shut sites during the colder winter months to save on gas and electricity costs.

“We also have evidence of energy providers who have either not yet applied any Government support payments to business accounts or have not applied the full amounts owed and we are urgently pressing Ofgem and the Government to investigate.”

Hailstorm of damage

On Sunday 23 January, The Times​ reported energy provider EDF is failing to pass on emergency Government help with bills to about 2,000 small businesses.

Lord added: “From the end of March, we will see a hailstorm of damage inflicted on businesses, from the removal of energy support to rises in income tax thresholds, which will further affect consumer spending. Unfortunately, we will see many businesses close down as a result of these extra pressures.

“We are moving from one financial crisis to another, and the Treasury urgently needs to put forward a long term financial plan, which will not only secure economic growth and stabilise the industries currently in peril, but instil confidence in business owners across the UK.”

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