The Government recognise the impact that increasing energy prices are having on households. That is why we are providing £15 billion in additional support to the £22 billion we announced previously. The Government are in regular contact with business groups and suppliers to explore ways to protect businesses.
The finance director of Thessco, a successful Sheffield alloy manufacturer, has told me that the company’s electricity bill has increased by more than 300% and its gas bill by more than 400%. It does not qualify for help under the energy intensive industries compensation scheme simply because its raw materials are precious metals. The previous Industry Minister acknowledged this in a letter to me but hoped that, despite not helping, the scheme did
“demonstrate an intent to try to help”.
Extraordinary. Does the Minister agree that small and medium-sized enterprises such as Thessco do not need demonstrations of intent and that they need practical support to avoid being crushed by rising energy bills?
The Government absolutely recognise the challenge being faced by businesses and consumers in relation to the rise in global energy prices. It may be that the business in question qualifies for other things, such as the energy intensive industries exemption scheme, and I will have a look at that, but what is certain is that it will qualify for the business rates relief—totalling £7 billion over the next five years—and the annual investment allowance, which increases from £200,000 to £1 million over the course of this year, as well as some of the other really important measures the Government have put in place to support businesses at this difficult time.