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UK live and night-time sectors criticise government’s reduced support on energy prices

By | Published on Tuesday 10 January 2023


Representatives for the live and night-time sectors have criticised the UK government’s plan for how it will support businesses dealing with surging energy prices from April this year.

A temporary energy price cap covering businesses, and subsidised by the government, was introduced in October to help mitigate the impact of those surging prices.

However, that cap was only put in place for six months, and ministers were somewhat vague about what would happen once those six months were up.

Yesterday details of the support that will be provided from April onwards was confirmed, with what is basically a subsidised discount scheme replacing the price cap. This reduces the support available and removes the element of certainty regarding energy costs that the price cap provided.

Increased energy prices are a major challenge, of course, for venues and other night-time businesses, many of which operate on tight profit margins, and which are still recovering from all the lost business caused by the COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

Last October’s price cap helped many of those struggling live and night-time businesses to meet that challenge in the short term. However, it is feared, with that government support due to be significantly cut back in April, we could see another spike in venues and clubs going out of business.

Criticising the cut back in support, Jon Collins – CEO of UK live sector trade group LIVE – said yesterday: “The average energy bill for live music venues has gone up by nearly 300% which is leading to permanent venue closures as owners struggle to cover costs”.

“This decision further jeopardises these well-loved establishments”, he added “restricting access to live music, inhibiting venues’ ability to turn a profit, and damaging town and city centres at a time when we desperately need growth”.

Meanwhile, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, stated: “The announcement today once again outlines how out of touch the government are with businesses. Even under the current relief scheme, greedy, profiteering energy companies are subjecting businesses to over 400% increase on previous energy bills”.

“All of this in light of the fact that gas/oil wholesale prices in recent months have dropped below the levels prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”, he added. “The scaling back of the energy relief scheme by government [in] April will without doubt mean thousands of businesses and jobs will be lost in the coming months”.