22 Sep

Government energy cost move should only be the first step

The Government has provided more details on how it will support businesses with rising energy costs, discounting gas and electricity through the new Energy Bill Relief Scheme for all businesses for a six-month period, starting in October. The nature of the support varies depending on whether businesses are on a fixed or variable tariff. Details on the scheme can be found here.

This is a welcome step and should help to take the pressure off Members facing rising bills, but it can’t be the only solution to the problems many in the industry face. Members have been dealing with increasing costs for some time now, and travel only re-opened in March this year, so we’re very much in the early stages of the industry’s recovery. 

As the Chancellor prepares to announce a mini-Budget tomorrow, we urge him to take this opportunity to provide further support, for example by extending business rates support beyond the end of the current financial year and working with the British Business Bank to give businesses more headroom with the repayment of loans taken on during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Government has also said it will also carry out a review in three months’ time to see which companies may be eligible for further support under the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. We will be strongly advocating that travel companies should be eligible, making the point that many businesses took on debt to get through the pandemic, which is now falling due for repayment. These are Government-backed loans, so it is in the Government’s – and ultimately the taxpayer’s - interest to ensure travel businesses are helped and eligible for the full support.

There have also been developments this week in terms of new Ministerial appointments. Baroness Vere has been given the aviation portfolio, replacing Robert Courts, and Nigel Huddleston has left his role as Tourism Minister. At time of writing we’re awaiting confirmation as to who will pick up the tourism brief.

ABTA will be engaging with the new Ministers, demonstrating the valuable contribution of the UK travel industry to the economy, and working to represent the needs of the sector to Government over the coming months, particularly in the run up to the three-month energy bill review. To help support this work we’re encouraging Members to fill in the latest Future Travel Coalition survey on how the industry is faring, which will provide valuable evidence for our lobbying activities.

You can complete the survey here