MP calls for energy bailout grant to save Cumbria’s high streets

September 2, 2022 4:03 PM
Originally published by Tim Farron

Local MP Tim Farron is demanding the Government rescue hundreds of small local businesses in Cumbria from soaring energy bills, warning that lack of action could see the area's high streets turning into "ghost towns."

Since businesses are not covered by the Ofgem energy price cap, many are expecting to see their bills skyrocket by 400% in the coming months.

The Liberal Democrat rescue package would offer grants up to £50,000 to help small businesses cope, giving them a lifeline to keep their doors open. The plans would benefit 9,246 small and medium-sized businesses in Cumbria, from family-owned high street shops to hairdressers.

Under the proposed Liberal Democrat scheme, small businesses would be able to apply for Government grants covering 80% of the increase in their energy bills for one year, up to a maximum of £50,000. Nationally the proposals would help 1.4 million small businesses across the UK.

The party is also calling on the new Prime Minister to introduce laws to support families and businesses with spiralling energy costs as soon as Parliament returns next week.

The scheme would cost an estimated £10 billion and could be met by reversing the Conservatives' planned 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 and restoring the Bank Levy to 2015 levels, raising £10.6 billion over the next four years.

Tim said: "Cumbria's local high streets risk being devastated by spiralling energy costs and turned into ghost towns, but the Conservatives don't seem to get it or even care.

"Local shops, cafes and restaurants that survived through the Coronavirus pandemic, could now be taken down by soaring energy costs and forced to close their doors unless the Government steps up urgently.

"We need this energy bailout now to save our high streets, rescue small businesses and keep prices down for local families.

"We've known this hike was coming for months and the Government has done nothing.

"We cannot waste more time. The new Conservative Prime Minister must act immediately to protect families and small businesses in Cumbria as soon as Parliament returns."