Dave Curtin, managing director of The Shrewsbury Club, said the decision ends a lot of uncertainty for both companies large and small.
The scheme will fix wholesale gas and electricity prices for businesses for six months starting October 1, protecting businesses from crippling costs.
It is understood that the plan will be revised after three months with an option to extend support to “vulnerable businesses” – but it is not known which sectors fall into this category.
Although the support package was welcomed, Mr Curtin warned that more support may be needed after the winter.
“While the six-month energy bill relief plan is a very welcome help, this still creates a moment on the brink as of April 2023,” he said.
“Like other health clubs, gyms and spas across the country, here at Shrewsbury Club we are impacted by high energy bills throughout the year. Energy rates are significantly higher than 2019 and we are in a low-margin industry.
“We’re not like other companies — we don’t have a seasonal power surge, we need to heat our pools, and keep the temperatures low in our gym and studios for 12 months out of the year.
“I understand that the plan will be revised after three months with an option to expand support for ‘vulnerable companies’ – but it is not yet known which sectors will fall into this category.
Come March, yes, the weather might warm up a few degrees, but our energy bills won’t change, our members will still want to jump into a warm pool, relax in a warm sauna and work out in a cool gym.
“It is a problem facing businesses of all kinds, from hospitality to manufacturing, but the impact is broader in the health and wellness sector. Many of us may not see it as an important service, but health and fitness clubs like ours are one of the main factors that make so many people follow healthy lifestyles. We also know that regular exercise in the gym has a very beneficial effect on people’s mental health.
“If services like ours are forced to shut down due to energy bills, it will have a huge impact on the wider community. Whether you are a regular swimmer, an amateur tennis player or a gym visitor, keeping your body moving and your heart pumping is key to a healthy lifestyle – making People are away from doctors’ waiting rooms and hospitals.”
Sivon Haviland, Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce added: “For months we have been calling for government intervention to help companies pay their energy bills. This support package is significant and will ease the cost pressures that have built up on businesses.
It will allow many businesses that have been facing closure, or have to lay off employees or reduce production, to continue through the winter.
“But the exact level of support will vary greatly from company to company depending on the specifics of their contract, so some will inevitably perform better than others.
“Now we need to take action to get this savings into business as soon as possible – every day will put some companies closer to the edge and they can’t hold out for much longer.
“There must also be effective legal oversight to ensure that companies that are owed do not lose this money.
“We recognize that there are a bunch of uncertainties for the government to look forward to, but without further reassurance, very few companies will make plans to invest or grow.
Some businesses will still struggle to pay their bills despite this government intervention, and the chancellor should prioritize those businesses in his mini-budget on Friday.
There are a host of other challenges that must be addressed including labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and rising raw material costs.
“To truly revitalize our economy for the challenging months ahead, there needs to be a clear long-term plan that gives business confidence to grow.”