BUSINESS bosses in Leamington are joining the national fight to protect the high street against spiralling energy costs – a threat they believe to be worse than the pandemic.
The #BusinessSOS campaign has seen over 150,000 businesses from across the UK unite to urge the government to act against the detrimental effects of rising energy bills, which they fear could bring about a collapse of the high street.
The campaign, founded by organisations representing retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism, warns that mass closures and redundancies could be imminent if effective action is not taken to alleviate the critical pressure that businesses, like households, have been facing since April this year.
They say the impact of energy costs could cause more irreversible damage to the UK high streets and the economy than the pandemic.
#BusinessSOS has drawn out a three-point plan to support ailing businesses. This involves reducing VAT from 20 per cent to 12.5 per cent, reducing business energy bills from 20 per cent to five per cent to match domestic billing, providing 100 per cent business rate relief until March 31 2023 and providing a discounted kwh price on all business energy bills.
BID Leamington executive director Stephanie Kerr has given her full backing to the campaign.
She told the Observer: “BID Leamington is supporting the Business SOS campaign which calls for critical support for businesses as spiralling energy costs alongside other increases threaten the sustainability of businesses and our town centre.
“In some cases, their energy bills have more than tripled, alongside facing labour shortages and increases in the cost of insurance, wages, deliveries, haulage, products and more. This level of inflation cannot be passed onto the customer, as they too face cost of living challenges.”
Matthew Sims, founder of #BusinessSOS campaign, added: “The new prime minister has days to save the high street as we know it. The impending announcement on how the government will tackle the energy crisis facing businesses will either ensure businesses can remain trading or set in motion mass closures and redundancies.
“To say the energy crisis is worse that the pandemic is not an understatement, it is the reality facing businesses today and why the clock is ticking for the new government to provide clarity and introduce measures providing tangible and immediate relief.”