Jeremy Hunt is considering proposals to extend energy support for all businesses past March, instead of targeting a package at “vulnerable” industries.
The chancellor may scrap his plan to target certain industries from April due to difficulties in getting information on sector-by-sector energy usage.
The Financial Times reports that another universal support package would be less than the £29bn six-month plan announced in September, with firms receiving a smaller discount on their energy bills.
Business groups have been calling on the government to maintain universal support to businesses, with energy prices expected to peak in 2023.
The Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) has claimed that almost one-in-four small businesses are at risk of going bust without more government cash.
It had previously been announced by the government that industries that require high amounts of energy – like hospitality and manufacturing – would receive help beyond the 20 March deadline.
Hunt said during his autumn statement that the costs of the current package were “not sustainable” and that support would be “much lower” for firms receiving help beyond March.
However, Whitehall civil servants are reportedly finding it difficult to secure information on energy usage by businesses in different sectors.
“We [suppliers] are not very skilled at granular data on users,” one energy executive told the FT.
Business secretary Grant Shapps promised this week that clarity would be soon given for businesses over the government’s future plans.
It has been speculated that an announcement could be made shortly after Christmas.