The leader of the Greater Brighton city region has given a cautious welcome to the government’s intervention to limit the energy bill hike faced by the region’s businesses.
Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty said the announcement of a six-month energy price discount was an important short-term fix but that more needed to be done to stop firms failing if energy bills suddenly jump when the cap expires.
And he called for the Government to put urgent focus on accelerating the UK’s transition from an economy reliant on imported fossil fuels to one thriving under the power of locally-generated renewable energy.
The government has announced energy bills for UK businesses will be cut by around half their expected level this winter under a huge support package.
The scheme will fix wholesale gas and electricity prices for firms for six months from 1 October, shielding businesses from crippling costs. Hospitals, schools and charities will also get help, the government said.
It comes after ministers announced a multi-billion pound plan to help households with bills for two years.
Cllr Mac Cafferty, the chairman of Greater Brighton Economic Board and who is also the Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said:
“Businesses, and, in particular, small and micro businesses, needed this short-term measure to be able to keep their lights on through the autumn and winter. I know many businesses are still worried about what the winter will bring so we need to be clear – this is a sticking plaster, not a cure.
“The Economic Board will be analysing the impact on local business from the cost of living crisis as it’s now joined by the mini budget.
“But we’ve never more needed a bold government plan to accelerate the switch to renewable energy away from coal, oil and gas, and the increasingly erratic markets that control their prices.
“Apart from anything else the cost of renewables has dropped – it’s currently the cheapest form of energy available.
“The UK can not only power itself but be a net exporter of energy if we develop the innovative technology to harness our tremendous renewable, natural resources. Recent research from scientists at Oxford University tells us converting from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the entire world as much as £10.2tn by 2050.
“So it’s clear renewables should be what our future is made of, not the dirty fossil fuels of the past.
“Greater Brighton businesses are leading the way in this energy evolution but they need government support to turn their ideas, pilots and prototypes into a mass-produced solution to the energy crisis that is affecting all of us.”
The Greater Brighton city region covers 7 local authority areas, stretching from Bognor in the west to Seaford in the east, and up to Crawley in the north of Sussex. The Greater Brighton Economic Board was formed in 2014 to protect and grow the city region’s economy through creative, innovative initiatives which coordinate economic development activities and investment.