Why rising energy prices are a big concern for the Yorkshire's businesses

Rising energy prices are a big concern for businesses and more support is needed for firms in energy intensive industries, according to the regional chair of a leading business organisation.

Jane Madeley, chairwoman of the CBI in Yorkshire, believes Rishi Sunak’s, inset, Spring Statement looked to tackle some of the issues faced by consumers around rising energy costs but a similar response to support businesses, especially small firms, is also required.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, she said: “For business, we have got many energy intensive businesses and industries within the region and they are similarly being challenged and a response to support them is also needed.”

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Firms have already been trying to “contain and manage” inflationary pressures for some time, Ms Madeley said.

“These further hikes in energy prices are going to be really difficult for businesses to absorb,” says Jane Madeley.

“These further hikes in energy prices are going to be really difficult for businesses to absorb,” she added.

Ms Madeley, who is also chief financial officer at the University of Leeds, would like to see the Government provide financial support similar to Covid loans for small businesses to help them manage cash flow.

“We would support the same thing from a business perspective rather than a blanket response,” she said. “It needs to be targeted at those with the most need.”

The Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce also called for the Government to do more to support businesses after one of its members reported that it will be hit with a 365 per cent increase in energy bills.

Wakefield-based printing company Charlesworth said its energy bill for last year was just under £132,000, but its renewal price is being quoted at over £612,000.

Ms Madeley took up the post of regional chairwoman for the CBI in January. Her tenure will last two years.

She feels the themes around the Levelling Up agenda will form a key part of her time as chairwoman.

Ms Madeley said the decision to cut Leeds from the HS2 route was “frustrating” and feels that the Government failed to live up to its commitments on transport investment in the region.

Transport improvements are important for businesses as it enables them to “work and collaborate easily across the region”.

She added: “If you put it together as a Northern economy, it’s really significant.

“Many of the current travel links do not make it easy for people to commute between those Northern cities, which are relatively modest miles apart.”

Plans to build a new Northern Powerhouse Rail high-speed line via Bradford were also axed.

Ms Madeley said that “Levelling Up isn’t just about big cities”. She added: “It is about tackling economic inequalities across lots of regions.

“We’ve got some real strength and skills in those areas that are just being neglected.”

The new chairwoman of the CBI in Yorkshire says skills is another key issue for businesses in the region.

Drop in business confidence

Businesses were “feeling pretty confident” in January and February with the country “getting used to living with Covid”, Jane Madeley said.

But the war in Ukraine and rising energy prices has led to a dip in confidence.

The halting of free testing is “concerning”, Ms Madeley said.

She added: “With increasing cases we do need to protect the workforce. We don’t want it to spread because of the workforce shortages.

“Having testing more easily available, rather than relying on people paying for it and opting in would be better for a period of time.”