The Government should step in and provide direct help for small businesses with energy bills, according to a lobby group.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said support could be provided through the business rates system, accompanied by a discretionary pot of money to be issued by local authorities, or directly applied to energy bills.
FSB National Chair Martin McTague said: “Small businesses are left out in the cold when it comes to energy bills, with the vast majority excluded from the household energy price cap and other protections designed for domestic household consumers.
“Unlike large corporates, small firms cannot hedge costs and negotiate deals with their large energy suppliers. Many of our members say the eye-watering energy bills could be the final nail in the coffin as they struggle to get through winter.”
As well as financial support with bills, the FSB argues ‘Help to Green’ vouchers should be introduced, modelled on the Help to Grow Digital scheme.
Such a scheme could help businesses to decarbonise, with £5,000 vouchers that can be spent on environmental goods and services.
“This would help businesses reduce their need to buy energy from the grid, lower bills, and improve our energy security,” said McTague.
“More widely, cost pressures could be eased through a reversal in the recent national insurance hike. Increasing the threshold of small business rates relief to £25,000 would take 200,000 businesses out the rates system and help reduce overhead costs.”