National Craft Butchers and Scottish Craft Butchers have sent a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt asking for clarification on aspects of the Energy discount scheme and highlighting the challenges that retail butchers face with energy price uncertainty. Asking for a review for businesses already locked into higher contract prices, and welcoming more detail about how the discount will be calculated.
As representatives of the UK’s retail butchery industry, we write jointly in response to your announcement of 9th January 2023 regarding the replacement of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme with the Energy Bills Discount Scheme for non-domestic customers.
Gas and Electric are now the leading costs for Butchers, and all have suffered from the surging costs over the last 12 months. While we mainly welcome the scheme announced on 9 January 2023, and due to take effect from 1 April of this year, we remain concerned that the discount scheme offered will leave our members exposed to fluctuating wholesale energy prices and could lead to increased energy costs for businesses.
The meat industry is a highly energy dependent industry. Our members have no other option but to access the electricity and gas needed to produce food that is safe to be consumed. The energy bill relief scheme provided much needed stability for the Christmas season and without that relief we know many businesses would have been forced to close their doors. However, our members energy requirements do not recede with the winter months but continue with increased demand for refrigeration.
The businesses we represent are a vital part of the food chain and we fear that this burden of instability, in addition to the rising costs elsewhere will make some businesses consider their future.
As food producers It is our expectation that retail butchers of all sizes and structures will fall within the higher level of relief as one of the “Energy and Trade Intensive Industries” or ETIIs, and we would ask for confirmation that this is indeed the case.
We also ask for a review for businesses already locked into higher contract prices, unless provision is made to help them renegotiate existing contracts businesses will be paralysed by prices higher than the prevailing wholesale rates.
We welcome more detail about how the discount will be calculated, will the discount be based on daily prices, or weekly, monthly, or other period averages? Our members need transparency on discounts and wholesale prices from suppliers as they try to plan their budgets for the year ahead currently with little certainty.
We would welcome an opportunity to share the pressures our membership is facing and look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Gordon King, Executive Manager, Scottish Craft Butchers
Eleanor O’Brien, Managing Director, National Craft Butchers