FT - James Lowman, chairman, ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has again called on the government to clarify which businesses will receive support after March 2023, and is urging retailers to write to their MP highlighting the serious impact of rising energy costs on their businesses.

The government has confirmed that the long-awaited announcement on the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) will be delayed until the New Year.

Businesses which renewed their contracts at any point after 1st December 2021 have been eligible for support through the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

The support provided to business comes in the form of a wholesale price set at 21.1p per kWh for electricity, and 7.5p per kWh for gas. This is the supported wholesale price, which makes up part of the overall kWh rate that a business pays, and is currently due to expire at the end of March 2023.

Exchequer secretary James Cartlidge said: “The energy bill relief scheme is very generous, but it is expensive, and we need to ensure longer-term affordability and value for money for the taxpayer. That is why we are carrying out a review of the scheme, with the aim of reducing the public finances’ exposure to volatile international energy prices from April 2023. We will announce the outcome of the review in the new year to ensure that businesses have sufficient certainty about future support before the scheme ends in March 2023.”

ACS has repeatedly called on the government to ensure that convenience stores are included in the list of essential vulnerable businesses that will receive additional help with their energy bills from April 2023.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Rising energy costs are the single biggest concern for convenience retailers at the moment and without additional support on energy from next April, thousands of stores will be forced to make difficult decisions and many of these businesses will be at risk of closure.

“We’re calling on retailers to write to their MP to outline their concerns and highlight the detrimental impact that rising energy costs will have on their businesses. We need the government to take decisive action and provide urgent clarity on the support that businesses will receive beyond March 2023.”

Retailers can enter their postcode on the MP email generator here to get involved.