Unless you’ve been lucky enough to be hibernating under a rock recently, you will be aware of the cold, harsh facts of living and operating a business in this current recessionary economic environment. People are feeling it in their pocket. These days, for instance, before walking into a nice looking restaurant we are all more likely to stop by the menu display to have a considered look at what’s available… and at what cost.
The same is true for global business. In terms of overseas companies looking to expand their operations, companies are currently looking at what’s on the menu in the UK. And eyebrows are collectively being raised at an alarming rate, and to a remarkable pitch. Energy-intensive industries such as IT and steel are struggling with rising business electricity costs
. In business terms, this is encouraging some to put down their menus and move to a cheaper restaurant. And for some, not to open the door in the first place.
Although true across the UK, the situation is exemplified in Wales, where the heavy industry of the past has dwindled, along with the reserves of coal that powered it. Carwyn Jones, the Welsh First Minister recently reported that businesses are telling him “compared to other countries in Europe, Britain is expensive”, adding, “we have to deal with this sooner rather than later, otherwise we will lose out”.
The government is inviting UK business to consult on a £250 million scheme to help protect businesses against the impact of new climate change rules. Aside from that, it seems high business electricity costs are an unwelcome truth we simply need to become accustomed to, rather like the non-existence of Father Christmas and the success of Manchester City. Speaking recently, George Osborne remarked: "Of course I'm concerned when I see electricity bills going up, partly that is because of things beyond our control – what's happening in the world with oil prices and gas prices."
The key words would seem to be “beyond our control”. In essence, it is left for us to deal with… and suddenly a hibernating snooze under that rock seems quite an attractive proposition. However there are positives to be taken from this. From a national perspective, Wales is now investing in renewable energy – wind, tidal power and liquefied natural gas imported through Milford Haven, in an attempt to push towards energy self-sufficiency. From a more individual business perspective, there is also something we can all do, to proactively react, to wrestle this beast and protect ourselves from the more pernicious ravages of its claws. And that is to at least keep energy bills down as much as possible, using Utility Helpline, to save up to 70% on business energy costs.