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UK Businesses call for support

Business leaders from bodies including the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) are calling on the government to act quickly and decisively to help smaller companies tackle the rising cost of energy.

As Liz Truss accepted HM Queen’s invitation to become the new prime minister today (6 September), a raft of trade associations urged rapid action to help UK businesses.

MSME taskforce

On Monday (5 September), the IOE&IT appealed for Truss to immediately set up a taskforce to help MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized businesses) on issues such as energy, reports the Guardian.

“We want to see an export-led recovery that ensures that UK businesses have the tools, the skills, the knowledge and the expertise to seize the opportunities that arise through international trade,” said IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione.

“In particular we would like to see the government establish an MSME taskforce to provide immediate help and support on issues such as the rising cost of fuel and energy,” he added.

‘Big and bold’ action

Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said small businesses were “crying out for a comprehensive response which cuts taxes, limits spiralling bills and provides direct cash support”.

He added: “The challenge now is to deliver action that is big and bold enough to match the scale of the crisis threatening the existence of many small firms, and the jobs, livelihoods and communities which depend upon them.”

Energy package coming?

Bloomberg is reporting that Truss is finalising a £40 billion energy aid package for businesses over the next six months, as well as a cap on consumer energy prices of £1,971 per year.

A “key objective” is to give local firms the same protection as households, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

Businesses do not currently benefit from the price cap meaning many are facing soaring energy prices.

Support for drinks industry

Chief executive of industry body UK Hospitality Kate Nicholls told Spirit Business of the need for a support package that enables the sector “to play our part in the UK’s economic recovery and growth”,  which would include a reduction in VAT, deferral of environmental levies and a business rates holiday.

Mark Kent, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, which represents one of the UK’s most successful export sectors, urged Truss to deliver on the UK-India free trade agreement.

He said the deal could reduce the current 150% tariff on Scotch whisky and create £1 billion of additional exports over the next five years.

International reaction

Truss has also been congratulated by several international leaders, including German chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Reuters reports.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she hoped for a “constructive relationship” with the new administration but called on Truss to “respect” its commitments under the Northern Ireland Protocol, according to the Telegraph.

The BBC reports that Sinn Féin leader Michelle O'Neill said she wanted a "change of tack" from the next PM, whilst DUP head Sir Jeffrey Donaldson called for “decisive action” on the Northern Ireland Protocol.