Energy crisis: where to find help before the government acts

The oncoming energy crisis is top of mind for every SME as the country heads towards crisis. Where should business owners look for help today?

We are entering a dangerous period for SMEs. I do not want to be an alarmist, but we are weeks away from a hike in the energy bills that for some businesses will mean the doors that stayed open through a global pandemic will be forced to close.

I am writing this before the emergency budget statement scheduled for 21 September and don’t know what measures will be put in place to help SMEs now. I am hoping that the British Chamber of Commerce will be influential in finding solutions to what they call “a tsunami of costs” for the whole sector.

Read more here.

I’ll be discussing what the emergency budget will mean for SMEs on a webinar the following day: if you sign up to the Swoop newsletter, Click here for the sign up details.

The Chancellor has to find solutions to a situation that will cause major business disruption in the coming months:

  • Energy bills that cost more than rent are a last nail in the coffin for many businesses, particularly in hospitality
  • Once again, businesses are hit with a tough decision over absorbing costs or passing them on to customers. It’s unlikely that these costs can be absorbed, so prices will go up along the whole supply chain
  • Consumers will have less disposable income to spend

Other countries are also experiencing problems, but in the UK it’s just one thing after another, which in turn is harming our reputation: dumping raw sewage into coastal waters has cost the country more than a day at the beach.

I recently spoke to a B&B owner who had just received a message from a Spanish guest due to arrive next week to ask if there would be filtered water available at the property. They added that their once-popular fish and chip nights were not drawing customers.

Britain cannot afford to get a reputation as the kind of place where you shouldn’t drink the tap water. True or not, perception is what really matters.

This is the point in the column where I normally ask, “what can business owners do?” Just now there isn’t much that business owners can do, so instead, I’ve asked what I can do.

First, as CEO at Swoop, I want to put a spotlight on what is most important: helping SMEs survive. This means that every business needs to understand the help that will be available through the emergency budget statement on 21 September. So I hope you will join the webinar where we will be discussing this.

Second, Swoop is pulling together a taskforce to help businesses keep going. Cashflow is the most important thing for a business, so we are putting our best brains to work to find solutions for struggling businesses.

Finally, I and the Swoop experts are reading the road ahead. If the UK had a functioning Prime Minister, plans could’ve been drawn up to cope with this crisis earlier than the 11th hour. Covid showed us how reactive this government has been to emerging crises; at Swoop we are doing what we can to help and reassure people now rather than wait to find out what the response will be from the government.

Our mission is to help SMEs thrive and grow because by doing that we are playing our part in making a vibrant economy, putting money into the pockets of business owners and their employees all over the country.

Yesterday, Swoop signed a sole trader to their first business credit card. It comes with free FX, saving them a few hundred pounds a year. It will also help them build a credit score for future funding. It’s not Swoop’s biggest deal or the most exciting, but to that sole trader, those savings will make a real difference.

When everything seems to be against you, you look at these small wins and remember: this is where great businesses start.

Andrea Reynolds
Andrea Reynolds

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