Ministers have assured that any business energy help package will be backdated to October like the sister scheme to support household bills.
According to the Financial Times, the Chancellor will unveil details of the business energy help package in his mini Budget to be at the end of next week.
Unlike households, which rely on a handful of energy suppliers (and fewer still since several collapsed over recent months) and all bump up against a fixed price cap, business energy help involves a tangle of suppliers.
Furthermore, businesses individually sign up for fixed-term contracts, so trying to come up with a one-size-fits-all scheme is much more complicated.
On top of which the Queen’s death and national mourning has taken ministers’ attention away from this pressing and complicated issue.
The Treasury could have just a handful of days to sort out its business energy help package, bearing in mind the Queen’s state funeral on Monday, before Mr Kwarteng stands up in the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Liz Truss has said the Government would cover the difference between a new lower business energy prices and what suppliers would otherwise charge businesses.
However, there has been no detail as to where that price per unit might be set or what happens to businesses that have already signed fixed-price deals going forward.
Many small businesses renew their energy contracts on 1 October, although currently there is only one fixed-term deal on offer in the market.
Questions still to be answered include:
- What will be the fixed unit prices (and standing charges) from 1 October?
- What practically will now change – will energy retailers suspend high quotes and contract offers and recalculate from 1 October?
- Will those who have accepted hugely increased bills in recent weeks be able to renegotiate to bring their bills down to reasonable levels?
- As a small business normally gets quoted for at least 12 months, does that new quote include 6 months at a low rate and 6 months at a high uncapped rate? How does the energy retailer know who to quote extra support to, for the second six-month period?