60 Percent of British Manufacturers at Risk of Going Under as Energy Bills Skyrocket

60 Percent of British Manufacturers at Risk of Going Under as Energy Bills Skyrocket
General view of a disused gas holder in central London, on Sept. 22, 2021. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Owen Evans

Britain’s manufacturers are warning that their energy costs have already spiraled out of control, with nearly half reporting that electricity bills have shot up by over 100 percent in the past 12 months.

Make UK, the trade organisation that represents 20,000 manufacturers, is pressuring the government to take immediate action over the energy crisis, saying companies face cutting production or closing for good.

"The current crisis is leaving businesses facing a stark choice—cut production or shut up shop altogether if help does not come soon," Make UK said in a statement.

The organisation said that a "worrying" 12 percent of manufacturers have already made job cuts as a direct result of increased energy bills. It said that if bills continue to increase and prices rise by over 50 percent, which they expect in the next 12 months, more drastic action such as shutdowns and redundancies will become inevitable.

The manufacturing industry, which employs 2.5 million people, is the latest to announce that it is under the cosh of rising energy prices.

On Aug. 23, the Federation of Small Businesses warned of “a generation of lost businesses, jobs, and potential” with fish and chip shops coping with a £52,000 ($60,000) increase in utility cost.

UK brewery and pub bosses said gas and electricity bills will hit them harder than the lockdowns did. Some ancient English pubs, that barely survived the government's response to COVID-19, could be calling last orders over the issue.

Capping Prices

Supplying weighing machines since 1715, John White & Son is Scotland's oldest family firm.

Finance Director Bethan Onuonga told The Epoch Times that capping prices for 12 to 18 months would help the company.

"In terms of managing, we just have to absorb the costs, products, ranges to satisfy the increase in utilities," said Onuonga.

He added that as things currently are, things are manageable but "now is the time to put a pause on."

"We have fixed hours that remain for another eight months. But the quotations we've received have upwards of 30–50 percent of what we previously had," added Onuonga.

New Conservative leader Liz Truss will be under pressure support to help consumers and businesses cope. She promised that she would act on issues related to the cost of energy within a week of becoming the new occupant of Number 10 Downing Street.

Asked on Sunday by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg what she planned to do on energy bills, Truss said: “Before you have been elected as prime minister, you don’t have all the wherewithal to get the things done. This is why it will take a week to sort out the precise plans and make sure we are able to announce them. That is why I cannot go into details at this stage. It would be wrong."

To help UK businesses, Make UK said the new government urgently needs to take short-term, medium-term, and long-term action.

It suggested that removing Carbon Price Support to reduce electricity costs would save companies almost £90,000 ($103,000) a year.

It added that an Explore Industry Price Cap, which would freeze prices at an agreed rate, could be funded either by the government or possibly by working with banks.

Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.