High street businesses have called for emergency help over skyrocketing energy bills, as bosses warn a cocktail of cost pressures threaten to subdue their pandemic recovery.
Without government action, historic levels of inflation and dramatic energy bill rises pose a risk to the beauty sector’s recovery, the British Beauty Council has said.
The industry group has urged ministers to review its policy on energy rebates to include businesses as well as domestic households.
“[The government] must be mindful that the hard work isn’t over for salons and beauty retailers trying to build back and recover and as such we are continuing to engage with them on how they can best support our sector to do this successfully.” Victoria Brownlie, BBC chief policy officer, said.
Energy hikes were on top of higher staff wages, National Insurance increases and business rate increases, “which will be impacting many businesses who were only just starting to get their heads above water,” Brownlie added.
The group warned of a “false dawn” after the British Retail Consortium and the Local Data Company found the average vacancy rate fell to 14.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2022.
Industry voices have also called for a temporary reduction in VAT on business energy bills from 20 per cent to five per cent.
“Some hospitality bosses were seeing energy bills rise to six, seven and eight thousand pounds per month, Sacha Lord, the night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said.
“This level of payout for businesses recovering post-pandemic, is simply unsustainable,” Lord added.
“Businesses across the board are struggling and I know many who are making tough decisions on how and whether to survive,” he said.
JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin also reignited calls for ministers to slash the VAT rate on food served in hospitality venues.
A pandemic reduction in VAT was returned to 20 per cent in April, which Martin blamed for the rise in inflation.
“It does not make economic sense that food bought in pubs, restaurants and cafes attracts VAT of 20 per cent, when food is VAT-free in supermarkets,” he said.
“The government should reduce VAT from the current 20 per cent in the hospitality industry and as well as benefiting businesses and customers, it will, I believe help in lowering inflation in the months to come.”