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UK Government announces energy price cap for businesses and venues

The UK Government has announced an energy price guarantee scheme that will provide support for businesses, including entertainment and hospitality venues, for an initial six months.

In new Prime Minister Liz Truss’ first major policy announcement, the Government said an energy price cap will be introduced for businesses and other non-domestic energy users for the first time to protect them from soaring energy costs.

The Government said a typical household will pay no more than £2,500 in energy costs per year, while businesses have so far been promised “an equivalent guarantee”.

After this initial six-month scheme, the Government said it will provide ongoing, focused support for vulnerable industries, some of whom are reporting projected increases in energy costs of more than 500%. There will be a review in three months’ time to consider where this should be targeted to make sure those most in need get support.

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) welcomed the support but said plans for long-term assistance are also required.

Clara Cullen, venue support manager at MVT, said: “The financial impact of the energy price rises on the Grassroots Music Venues (GMV) sector presents an existential challenge. For a sector with a total gross turnover of £399m, the current rise equates to an additional £90m in costs.

“The policy announced today only goes some way in alleviating the challenge, in the very short-term, by creating an energy price cap for businesses that will be in place for an initial six months. The Government has committed to reviewing this policy in conjunction with the hospitality sector. Music Venue Trust will contribute to this review to ensure the perspective of GMV is included in this decision-making process.

“As the policy announced today is only a temporary short-term measure, MVT urges the Government to take further action to ensure a long-term solution for energy provision for Grassroots Music Venues providing an energy supply which is affordable, reliable and sustainable.

“We need this action to take place as soon as possible to protect, secure and improve our Grassroots Music Venues.”

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said the Government’s plan does not go far enough to help those his group represents.

Kill said: “We are extremely disappointed at the announcement by the Prime Minister today, this half measure package is tantamount to support experienced during the pandemic, but lacks considerable detail to alleviate current business concerns.

“We have no time for drip fed support, or to await the impact assessment of incremental measures, this needs to be a concise and immediately accessible package, which is proportionate and scalable.

“As the first major announcement of the Prime Minister and Chancellor’s tenure, the Government has failed businesses today, and with mounting debt across the sector we will see many have no choice but to consider the future, placing thousands of jobs at risk in the coming weeks, without additional support.”

Live entertainment industry organisations last month called on the UK Government to take urgent action to support businesses that are set to be stung by rocketing energy bills this winter.

A survey by the MVT found that about 30% of its 941 venues are facing the threat of permanent closure without a solution to the impending crisis. The MVT’s member venues are being forced to contend with an average 316% increase in energy bills – up from £1,245 to £5,179 per month.

Image: Dan Burton on Unsplash

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