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What support is available for businesses from the government this winter?

| Alison Smith | 16 December 2022

We’re part way through a winter that’s putting businesses to the test so it’s important to seize any help you can to balance the books.

With falling gross domestic product and predictions of a prolonged recession, the Chancellor has warned of “a tough road ahead” as a combination of factors flatten the UK economy.

One of the most pressing of these is the cost of energy - it is it’s vital that business leaders are aware of the support available and are aware of its limitations.

At Duncan & Toplis, we are here to help in any way that we can throughout the current economic crisis - we’re all in this together.

Energy Bill Relief Scheme

The government has launched an ‘Energy Bill Relief Scheme’ - published in late September - which is a support fund dedicated to non-domestic customers such as businesses. The scheme essentially provides energy bill relief, with discounts being applied to bills from 1 October 2022. It’s important to note however that this scheme is due to end on 31 March 2023

The scheme is available to any business, voluntary organisations such as charities and public organisations such as schools and hospitals. There is an eligibility criteria however, which can be viewed here. Essentially, you need to be:

  • On existing fixed price contracts that were agreed on or after 1 December 2021
  • Signing up to new fixed-price contracts
  • On deemed/out of contract or variable tariffs
  • On flexible purchase or similar contracts

There are a few exclusions, but this typically applies to businesses that use gas or electricity as a purpose of generating power that they then sell back to the grid.

To calculate the discount, the estimated wholesale portion of the unit price that you would be paying will be compared to a baseline price supported by the government. This price is lower than currently expected wholesale prices this winter and therefore will provide some (but limited) relief.

These prices have been set at £211 per megawatt hour (MWh) for electricity, and £75 per MWh for gas.

In terms of registering or applying for the scheme - it is an automatic discount, so you won’t need to physically take any action. Savings will be applied to your October bills onwards, so you should have been seeing evidence of this from November onwards.

The scheme will be reviewed after three months of publication to determine whether or not the support will be continued past the March 2023 cut-off date. However, based on government statements, the review will likely only favour the most vulnerable non-domestic customers rather than all organisations.

What can I do if I’m still struggling?

We understand that, even with the government support scheme, energy bills are scarily high and can be difficult to pay if you’re feeling the pinch. There are a few things that you can do if you’re in this position, such as:

  • Contact your energy supplier - they may be able to work with you to agree on a payment plan going forwards to make it more affordable and spread the costs. You can ask for payment breaks, more time and a review of your payments if required.
  • Seek guidance from Citizens Advice - if you can’t agree on a way to pay your bills with your energy supplier, then contact Citizens Advice for some help on how best to resolve the issue.
  • Check business grants from your supplier - many energy companies offer schemes and grants to help improve your energy efficiency which will then reduce costs. They may also offer business hardship funds too.
  • Ask your local council - some local councils will have small business support funding schemes in place, such as sustainable business growth grants. You’ll likely need to submit a business case to apply for these.
  • Seek advice from Duncan & Toplis - we’re always here to help in any way that we can, so please contact us if you require any friendly advice and guidance in how to manage your business’ finances.
  • Look into how you can cut costs - you may be able to reduce your costs by switching from your current contract, or installing a smart meter for example. Smart meters will ensure that you don’t pay more than you need to, as you’re not using estimated readings.

If you require any advice or guidance on your energy bills this winter, then please contact our team for assistance.


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