The British Independent Retailer Association (Bira) is asking members to lobby their local MPs for change following the recent announcement from Ofgem that energy prices will be jumping up by 80% this autumn.
Bira has already been asking the government about business rate relief to help offset increasing energy costs and will be continuing to campaign for change on behalf of its members. In a recent open letter to the two leadership candidates, Rishi Sunak and Lizz Truss, Bira urged them to take action, and in particular:
Maintain 100% business rates relief for retailers;
Persuade energy companies to place a cap on energy increases for businesses;
Reduce to the multiplier for small businesses from 2023/24;
Cut VAT for retailers to stimulate demand;
Provide more funding to encourage investment in low-energy technology in retail shops to protect retailers from higher energy bills in the long term.
Members are also being encouraged to also take these appeals to their own MPs. Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO said: “With energy prices soaring we all need to take action. This cannot continue and we need our local MPs to sit up and take note. We hope by all our indies also taking a stand, we can create some real noise and action off the back of this, putting pressure on those in power and getting our voices heard.”
Bira has created a template letter which can be amended and sent directly to your MP.
Almost 88% of Bira members feel they are being forced into raising their prices to shoppers once the energy price jump comes into effect this autumn and business owners are preparing for the worst.
Among those questioned, 65% also said they would be forced to reduce the number of staff they had or reduce wages, while 40% were considering limiting opening hours, and almost 23% would be looking to permanently or temporarily close the business.
Mr Goodacre added “Businesses are under great pressure at the moment and with some concerned that they need to reduce hours or even close permanently is incredibly worrying for us and the local economy. There has been no specific help coming through from central or local authorities to help businesses who are struggling with their bills which has been very disappointing. While some areas may have hardship funds or slight reductions in business rates, this is not seen across the country. It is clear to us that businesses are being targeted by energy providers to make up for any restricted price caps on consumers.”
While business rate relief would be welcome, small businesses would still be paying 100% more this year compared to last year. “We asked the government not to do this because as long ago as last October as we were seeing huge increases in retailer energy bills. More recently it has been 500% and keeping rates lower would have helped indie retailers absorb the higher energy costs. They will certainly need help as the rates for electric are increasing daily and we have just been told that one provider is charging 94p per KWH for electric – the highest we have seen so far”.
Bira represents 3,000 different businesses around the UK.