What a month it has been !
In the last few weeks we’ve experienced the death of Her Majesty the Queen, the accession of King Charles III, the appointment of a new Prime Minister and all against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has had a huge impact on energy prices which affects homes and businesses alike.
Another change has been the selection of our own constituency MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, as Business Secretary. He will be at the heart of Government plans to mitigate the impact of rising energy bills and as we have regular contact with him, we will be in a good position to make sure he is aware of the concerns of our members.
Currently energy bills are at the forefront of their minds and members seem to fall into two groups. The first includes those who have taken out relatively long term fixed price deals, some of which have a reasonable amount of time to run. We’ve heard of people who took out four or five year deals about 18 months ago, and so businesses like those don’t face an immediate price hike. However, there remains the unknown of what price new deals will cost when the time comes.
The second group is made up of those on variable tariffs who will wait and see what the bills look like when they drop through the post box and how much of an impact Government support will have. Another complication is that most pay on some sort of Direct Debit arrangement, which will have gone up but are not yet reconciled back to actual bills.
Both groups will be anxious about how long the Government will be able to subsidise bills and that leads to uncertainty, which is always bad for business. It causes people to think twice about investment decisions and so slows down the growth of our local economy.
Some businesses have relatively low energy use, but the hospitality sector, in particular will be hard hit. When we were approached for comment from BBC Points West we had the chance to put them in touch with the team in the Stoke Inn. Paul Barltrop interviewed Lee Lashenko live into the programme and heard first hand about what impact rising energy costs were having here in the Chew Valley.
Lee spoke for all Chamber members when he explained he was grateful for Government help and hoped it would go on long enough to get over the spike in energy costs.
If you would like to find out more about Chew Valley Chamber of Commerce have a look at our website: www.chewvalleychamber.co.uk