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Companies could get more energy bill help from ministers

The glass industry is one of those that uses a lot of energy (Paul Ellis/PA)
The glass industry is one of those that uses a lot of energy (Paul Ellis/PA)

The Government is considering whether to give further help to businesses struggling under the weight of their energy bills even as it refuses to commit to helping households more.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that it is “essential” to help heavy industry to cut production costs.

He is proposing that the Government increases the exemption from some environmental and policy costs that certain companies were given in March.

The new proposal would increase the exemption from 85% to cover 100% of the costs.

“British manufacturers are the lifeblood of our economy and central to our plans to overcome this period of economic uncertainty,” Mr Kwarteng said.

“With global energy prices at record highs, it is essential we explore what more we can do to deliver a competitive future for those strategic industries so we can cut production costs and protect jobs across the UK.”

The proposals would bring relief to companies that use a lot of electricity including steel and paper mills.

The price of electricity has risen more for industries in the UK than in other countries, the Government said. This could hamper investment and the viability of these businesses, it added.

As a result, glass, ceramics and cement companies could be among those who leave the country.

Gareth Stace, the director general of UK Steel, said: “The publication of this consultation is a significant step forward in delivering competitive electricity prices for the UK steel sector and should provide some much-needed relief in the face of extremely challenging circumstances at the current time.

“While there remain difficulties, this announcement demonstrates that UK Government understands the challenges of British industry and continues to support steelmakers and steel communities across the country.”

The new proposal would help around 300 businesses and support 60,000 jobs in the UK.

It comes at the same time as ministers refuse to do more for households until the new prime minister is in place.

The energy price cap might reach close to £5,300 in April, according to new forecasts released on Friday. This will force families to make stark choices between eating and heating their homes, campaigners say.

On Friday, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi told Sky news: “Yesterday I met with the industry to look at what more we can do with the industry on direct debit, on pre-payment meters, all the things that families are worried about, we’re making sure we’re doing the work so on September 5 the new prime minister can hit the ground running and get those things into place.”