Norman Tenray, chief executive at Obas UK in Longridge and sponsors of the BIBAs 2022, said that unless action is taken to help the county’s small employers, their rising energy bills will be passed on to consumers, adding to the cost-of-living squeeze.
He said: “A big hike in energy bills is the last thing that small businesses need as they emerge from the Covid pandemic, but that’s exactly what they’re now faced with thanks to the UK’s over-reliance on imported gas and inadequate storage.
“If the Government doesn’t find a way to ease the energy price pressures these businesses are experiencing, and which Goldman Sachs analysts last week said could still be with us in 2025, these businesses will have no choice other than to pass the increases on to their customers, meaning we all end up paying more for goods and services.”
Wholesale gas prices have reached record levels in the last three months as post-Covid demand has risen around the world.
The UK imports more than half the gas it uses, and is on course to receive an unprecedented quantity of liquefied natural gas this month in ships, mostly from the United States.
Around 85 per cent of British homes are heated with gas, while two-thirds cook with it too. It’s also used to generate electricity, where it complements renewables by picking-up the slack when the output from wind and solar drops.
Obas UK supplies building and plumbing consumables, workwear and personal protective equipment from its headquarters near Preston and is sponsoring the Small Business of the Year award in this year’s Be Inspired Business Awards, The Bibas, which are open for entries until Friday, April 8.
Mr Tenray said the way small businesses respond to external pressures is just one of the attributes that judges look for when deciding who should win in the Small Business of the Year category.
He said: “Business is never straightforward, there’s always something beyond your control that you have to react to.
“This can be particularly problematic for smaller businesses, but they’re often also able to be more nimble and flexible. As a judge, I want to see evidence of how applicants have navigated these challenges and maybe even turned them into opportunities.”