UK Government launches business energy efficiency advice campaign as it scales back payment support
The UK Government has launched a new communications campaign providing businesses with advice on no-cost measures to improve energy efficiency. However, it is forging ahead in scaling back bills support for homes and businesses.
The new campaign launched on Saturday (1 April) – the same day that the Government scaled back the Energy Bill Relief Scheme.
It is targeted at small and medium businesses (SMEs) in the main, providing advice on low-cost and no-cost options to reduce energy bills. These include adjusting boiler flow temperatures, fitting heating and lighting timers and opting for more energy-efficient lightbulb.
Under the campaign, the Government is launching a new website providing the advice and showcasing case studies from sectors ranging from manufacturing to retail. It is also partnering with the British Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses to run TV, radio and social media adverts. The campaign is modelled after the similar £18m ‘It All Adds Up’ campaign, which launched last year to provide advice to households.
Energy Efficiency Minister Lord Callanan said that even though wholesale energy prices are falling, improving energy efficiency can help shield businesses from future price shocks while ensuring they contribute to the UK’s energy and climate goals.
In a statement, the Government added that while “many organisations are already aware of ways to boost their energy efficiency and have put these measures into practice”, others are still missing out “due to a lack of information”.
The Government has just scaled back the Energy Bill Relief scheme, with some trade organisations arguing that the information campaign will be too little to balance the impact on businesses.
The Scheme was introduced last October by then-Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg. Rees-Mogg, Liz Truss’s man of choice for the role, confirmed that it would only be in place in its original guise for six months. Some businesses saw their bills halved due to the scheme.
Under Rishi Sunak, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt proposed changes to the scheme, stating that the current level of support provided was not sustainable as costs for taxpayers were too high. He confirmed cuts to the scheme back in January, to come into effect from the start of April.
The new scheme allocates no more than £5.5bn over a 12-month period, while the initial iteration had a maximum budget of £18bn over six months.
The Federation of Small Business has warned that many of its members could see bills more than doubling due to pared-back support. It wants the Government to work with energy suppliers to ensure that they pass on benefits from falling wholesale prices to customers.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said support is being withdrawn “far too fast”.
“Thousands of businesses will find that their energy bills surge this month because the government’s new scheme gives much less help,” Nowak said. “Many companies will simply not be able to cope with these bills, and that could put jobs at risk too. The Government must not allow a short-term crisis to become a permanent destroyer of jobs and businesses.”
Disappointment was also expressed by many at the lack of new funding to shield SMEs from rising energy costs and help them cut their emissions in the package of documents unveiled on Thursday (30 March).