LIBERAL Democrats in Stratford are calling for energy grants to save the district’s high streets.
As businesses are not covered by the Ofgem energy price cap, many are expecting to see their bills skyrocket
by 400 per cent in the coming months.
Local Lib Dems, therefore, are demanding the government rescue hundreds of small businesses in Stratford from soaring energy bills, warning that lack of action could see the area’s high streets turning into “ghost towns”.
The Lib Dem’s proposed rescue package would offer grants up to £50,000 to help small businesses cope, giving
them a lifeline to keep their doors open. The plans would benefit 4,427 small and medium-sized businesses in
the Stratford district, from family-owned high street shops to hairdressers.
This would include the 225 cafes, restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses in the area.
Under the proposed Lib Dem scheme, small businesses would be able to apply for government grants covering 80 per cent of the increase in their energy bills for one year, up to a maximum of £50,000. Nationally the proposals would help 1.4 million small businesses across the UK.
The party is also calling on new Prime Minister Liz Truss to introduce laws to support families and businesses with
spiralling energy costs as soon as parliament returns next week.
The scheme would cost an estimated £10 billion and could be met by reversing the Conservatives’ planned tax
cuts for big banks, which are seeing their profits grow with rising interest rates. That would include cancelling
the government’s cut to the bank surcharge that is due to take effect in April 2023 and restoring the bank levy
to 2015 levels, raising £10.6 billion over the next four years.
Mrs Truss will reveal her support for households and businesses later this week but commentators say the government is currently discussing a £100billion package that could freeze all household bills until the next planned general election in 2024.
The plan would see average annual household energy bills remain at their current level of £1,971 instead of rising to £3.549 next month.
Stratford Lib Dem spokesperson, Manuela Perteghella, said: “Our district’s local high streets risk being devastated by spiralling energy costs and turned into ghost towns, but the Conservatives don’t seem to get it or even care. We already have empty shops in the town of Stratford.
“Local shops, cafes and restaurants that survived through the Coronavirus pandemic, could now be taken down
by soaring energy costs and forced to close their doors unless the government steps up urgently.
“We need this energy bailout now to save our high streets, rescue small businesses and keep prices down for
“We’ve known this hike was coming for months and the government has done nothing.”
She added: “We cannot waste more time. The new Conservative prime minister must act immediately to protect families
and small businesses in our district as soon as parliament returns.”