‘Ludicrous’ parliamentary recess to delay urgent energy support for businesses

Looks like Simon Jupp MP, great supporter of the hospitality sector, won’t be back in the commons until 17 October.

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng have other priorities e.g. scrapping the cap on bankers’ bonuses – Owl

Jon Stone www.independent.co.uk

The government has been urged to cancel a “ludicrous” parliamentary recess and recall MPs to work so that they can pass energy bill measures before prices rise in October.

Businesses in sectors such as hospitality and manufacturing have warned they could go out of business this autumn due to soaring prices without urgent government assistance.

The government has pledged to help – but in contrast to its plan for households, support for businesses will require parliamentary time so that fresh legislation can be brought in.

Yet parliamentary business has been suspended following the death of the Queen, and this break is expected to dovetail with a planned recess for parties to hold their conferences.

As a result MPs will not even begin to look at legislation until the second half of October, meaning business may have to wait until November for energy support.

Hospitality chiefs on Wednesday urged the governemnt to cancel the conference recess to get a move on.

“This [delay] is because energy plans require legislation – unlike domestic support – and with Parliament going back into recess next week there may be insufficient time to pass it before price hikes take effect from 1 October,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry group UK Hospitality. “This is why it seems ludicrous to go ahead with conference recess.”

The prime minister has promised support for businesses “equivalent” to her £2,500 annual price cap for households, but legislation is required to bring it in because there is no existing system like the domestic Ofgem energy price cap for firms.

The government says the details of the legislation is being worked on and it will be delivered in a “timely” manner.

But business chiefs have reportedly been warned in recent meetings that the scheme may not be ready until November.

“It is not worked through yet,” one government official told the Financial Times. “I don’t know whether it will come in before November. There’s some debate about whether it can be brought forward and happen before then.”

Some small firms like pubs and takeaways are already closing as they receive revised energy bills, with predictions that as many as 7 out of 10 nightlife venues could have to shut down.

The 10 day parliamentary suspension plus the conference recess beginning on 22 September means MPs are only expected to return to work in Westminster on 17 October.

Conference season is important to political parties because the events give them a significant media spotlight – but the gatherings are also financially important.

Parties bring in significant revenue selling stall pitches to lobbyists in their conference halls, and there could be significant costs associated with a last-minute cancellation of a major conference venue.

A government spokesperson said: “We will confirm further details of the business support scheme next week. The scheme will support businesses with their October energy bills, including through backdating if necessary.”