Energy bailout to save the high street

September 1, 2022 12:14 PM
By Ed Davey - Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Small businesses are in danger. Our treasured high streets could be turned into ghost towns as local businesses face sky-rocketing energy bills. But Conservative ministers just don't seem to care.

Local shops, pubs and restaurants up and down the country could all be forced to close their doors - unless the government finally steps up.

We need an energy bailout now to save the high street, protect jobs and keep prices down for families.

Liberal Democrats are calling for an emergency Covid-style support scheme to help shops, pubs, restaurants and other small businesses cope with sky-rocketing energy bills by offering grants of up to £50,000.

Because unlike households, businesses are not covered by Ofgem's energy price cap. Many could see their energy bills rise by almost 400%, with devastating consequences.

Under our proposals, small and medium-sized businesses would be offered government grants to cover 80% of the increase in their energy bills for one year, up to a maximum of £50,000. For example, a typical small restaurant would receive a grant of around £10,000 to help with their bills. The plans would benefit the 1.4 million small businesses across the UK, from high street shops to local pubs and cafes.

The estimated £10 billion cost of the scheme could be met by reversing the Conservatives' tax cuts for big banks - which are seeing their profits grow with rising interest rates. That would include cancelling the Government's cut to the Bank Surcharge that is due to take effect in April 2023.

There's no time to waste. Small businesses need support now. The new Conservative Prime Minister must bring in legislation to protect businesses from soaring energy bills as soon as Parliament returns on Monday - before it's too late.