Retailers cautiously welcome PM’s energy plans

Retailers cautiously welcome PM’s energy plans

Retailers have cautiously welcomed the new Prime Minister’s plans to help businesses amid exorbitant energy costs.

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s statement on the energy crisis, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “The six-month cap on energy costs for businesses is a positive first step in providing support for our members and it is welcome that the Prime Minister has given a commitment that this will equally apply to Northern Ireland.

“However, Government needs to go much further to provide additional support to small businesses struggling with this energy crisis. This should include Business Rates relief, VAT reductions and the reversal of the National Insurance hike.”

Unveiling the two-year Energy Price Guarantee for householders, Liz Truss said this would cap energy bills at £2,500 a year.

She also promised “equivalent support” for six months for businesses, although exact details have yet to be announced.  More support for businesses could be available for vulnerable businesses after that period.

The National President of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed), Jason Birks, said: “Although the devil is in the detail, today’s news of support for businesses should give struggling retailers some comfort and relief.

“Six months is a starting point, but the Fed and its members need longer term assurances that support will be ongoing.

“However, we look forward to hearing more about the financial support that will be available and assisting members in making sure they receive the help and support they need.”

Last week, Mr Birks warned that without financial assistance, the future for independent retailers looked bleak.

“When soaring energy bills are added to falling margins and rising payroll costs, it may only be a matter of time before communities lose access to the groceries and services that local stores provide – but more importantly they will also lose a heart,” he said.

“To survive this crisis, we need more financial support from the government and for the energy price cap to be applied to businesses too, even though this may be too little, too late.”

The Fed is also in regular dialogue with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on issues affecting members, with the most recent meeting taking place this week.