Print firms call for government action on energy price crisis

Jo Francis
Friday, August 26, 2022

As consumers are hit by news of the huge increase in the energy price cap, print business leaders are urging the government to help firms cope with spiralling energy costs.

Ofgem energy price cap has risen by 80% to £3,549 for typical household
Ofgem energy price cap has risen by 80% to £3,549 for typical household

Money saving expert Martin Lewis has described the new rates as “mathematically unaffordable for many” and the same applies to businesses, with some SME traders including restaurants and pubs already opting to shut down in the face of spiralling energy costs. 

BPIF CEO Charles Jarrold said government support was required to help businesses cope with the unprecedented rises. 

“It’s a huge issue that is bound to have a serious impact on firms’ viability,” he said.

“We are seeing up to 3x increases in power, and more in gas. We are in regular and constant contact with government and are feeding back detailed and specific information.”

This morning (26 August), chancellor Nadhim Zahawi acknowledged that the government needed to do more, and admitted that the help offered to consumers was “not enough”.

Regarding support for business, industry bodies including the CBI and FSB have called on the government to act before it is too late, and with the government seemingly experiencing a summer of drift due to the Conservative leadership contest. 

Jarrold stated: “Government support for business is needed, to ease the financial pressure that’s going to result from these cost increases.”

Rapidity managing director Paul Manning said the seriousness of the issue could not be understated for the industry.

“It has all the hallmarks of an absolute disaster for loads of printers,” he said. 

“We know we are headed for a 400% increase in energy costs, and as a digital-only company with relatively low energy use we can manage that cost. But I’ve spoken to others who are staring at serious issues.”

Many print firms are looking at ways to cut energy use. 

Linney CEO Miles Linney said the firm had undertaken a complete review of energy consumption across its operations. 

“We went through every single building looking at our gas and electricity usage. Based on worst-case scenarios for the new rates our Create building would go from £35,000 to £180,000, while the press hall would increase from £235,000 to well over £1m,” he explained.

“My gut feeling is we’ve just got to wait a bit. We’re in limbo at the moment – the new prime minister needs to put something in place immediately, then they can say 'I've sorted this out'. Maybe they need to cap it or bring in some sort of mini-furlough for energy.”

Linney has just invested £600,000 in a large solar panel installation on one of the buildings at its Mansfield supersite, and is looking at additional options for the site including vertical turbines. 

The solar panels will generate 999,506kw per year, equal to 14.5% of the group’s total business energy usage.

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