Home » Calls for greater support for businesses over by surging energy costs
Ceredigion Mid Wales Politics

Calls for greater support for businesses over by surging energy costs

Cefin Campbell

LOCAL Plaid Cymru politicians have reiterated calls for both the UK Government and Welsh Government to provide greater support for rural businesses as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies.

A recent report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that 40% of small businesses in Wales are extremely concerned about rising energy costs. The report also noted that 65% of small businesses in Wales had experienced price increases in fuel costs over the past year – with two in five companies (40%) seeing their energy costs double or more.

Speaking in the Senedd on Wednesday 14th December, Cefin Campbell MS, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales drew particular attention to off-grid businesses, who are reliant on LPG or oil as a heating source – and therefore directly affected by wholesale market price fluctuations.

Ceredigion has a disproportionately high number of off-grid businesses and properties – with over 70% of premises off-grid, compared with a Welsh average of 19%. Recent months have seen oil and LPG prices fluctuate, with one Ceredigion off-grid business seeing the price they pay for LPG more than double from 40p a litre to 82p a litre.

In response to the growing financial burden such surging energy costs are placing on businesses, the UK Government has announced an Energy Bill Relief scheme package to assist businesses and other non-domestic customers. For businesses not connected to the gas grid, the government have confirmed they will provide a fixed payment of £150 to all UK non-domestic consumers – however details regarding the application criteria and payment timeline are yet to be announced.

Speaking in the Senedd during questions to the Welsh Government Economy Minister, Cefin Campbell MS criticised the lack of support for off-grid businesses and called for greater assistance from Welsh and UK Governments.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our rural economy. However, as reflected in FSB’s recent research there’s no denying that this is a worrying time for many firms and employers – with many facing a bleak midwinter amidst spiraling energy bills and the wider cost of living crisis.”

A disproportionately high number of businesses across Mid & West Wales are off-grid, and reliant on heating sources such as LPG and oil – which are liable to fluctuating prices. Many of the existing support packages provided by Welsh and UK Government have left these off-grid businesses in the cold, and greater efforts need to be undertaken with urgency to support them over the coming difficult weeks and months.”

Ben Lake MP, Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament for Ceredigion added: “Over recent weeks my inbox has been inundated with businesses expressing grave concerns over surging energy costs. For many off-grid businesses, the tokenistic £150 payment offered by the UK Government won’t even touch the sides, and despite pressure from myself and others, we still have no idea when businesses will receive such payment.

“Sadly, this cost-of-doing-business crisis is likely to put many of our valued local businesses under immense pressure this winter, and more needs to be done to support them.”