Energy Bills: Support for Businesses

Energy Security and Net Zero – in the House of Commons at on 28 February 2023.

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Photo of Tom Hunt Tom Hunt Conservative, Ipswich

What steps he is taking to help businesses with their energy bills.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

I mentioned before that we are paying around half of the household energy bill. We are also paying around one third of business energy bills right now through the energy bill relief scheme.[This section has been corrected on 12 June 2023, column 1MC — read correction]

Photo of Tom Hunt Tom Hunt Conservative, Ipswich

A few weeks ago I went to St Nicholas Street in Ipswich to talk to some of the local businesses, including Bar Twenty One and Hopsters. Bar Twenty One has made a fantastic start to business, despite the difficult climate. Those who run Bar Twenty One talked about pedestrianising the street, which I support. They also raised the issue of energy bills and their frustration at seeing a decline in wholesale prices but still not feeling the benefit of that. Will my right hon. Friend outline to me and to those businesses what steps he believes the energy suppliers should be taking to support businesses and get them on to fair contracts?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

I really want to see a well-functioning energy market, and I have written to Ofgem about this. There is a request for information about the challenges facing non-domestic customers. As we see energy prices fall like a feather, having rocketed up, it is frustrating not to see those prices pass through. It is not the only frustration I have about the energy market—for example, it is 10 times cheaper to produce offshore wind than it is to buy gas right now, but we do not see that reflected in the prices. That is why we are looking at the entire operation of this marketplace.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government)

For the purposes of energy bill support, hospices are treated as businesses. They have seen a rise in their energy costs of 350%. They support some of the most vulnerable and needy people in our society, and the majority of their funding comes from private and charitable donations. Will the Secretary of State consider a special support fund for our hospices, so that they can keep caring for those who need it the most?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight the case of hospices. In my constituency, there is the Isabel Hospice, of which I am a regular patron, so I hear its concerns about issues such as energy prices. We have had a generous scheme in place and we have a further scheme that will continue to run. I will look at his specific concerns.