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22 Sep 2022
Energy bills subsidised by 50 per cent under UK government relief scheme
By Frances Marcellin
Energy bills subsidised by 50 per cent under UK government relief scheme
Gym operators will see their energy bills being halved for six months, with UK Active lobbying for further support
Photo: CandyBox Images/Shutterstock
The UK government has announced it will subsidise energy bills by at least 50 per cent for businesses, charities and public sector organisations for six months, starting from 1 October 2022.

This is welcome news for health and fitness operators in the UK, some of whom are facing an "existential threat" due to the current energy crisis.

In lobbying the government for support, UK Active has said the crisis could force the closure of up to 85 per cent of public sector leisure and sports facilities in the next six months, while some health club and gym operators are also affected.

The new initiative, called the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, was announced by business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“We've seen an unprecedented rise in energy prices following Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, which has affected consumers up and down the country and businesses of all sizes,” he said, adding that the subsidy will give organisations “the equivalent level of support” households have received through the recently announced Energy Bills Support Scheme.

Capped prices will see the cost of all non-domestic consumption of electricity at £211 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas. By comparison, wholesale costs this winter are expected to be £600 per MWh for electricity and £180 per MWh for gas.

UK prime minister, Liz Truss, said, “I understand the huge pressure businesses, charities and public sector organisations are facing with their energy bills, which is why we're taking immediate action to support them over the winter and protect jobs and livelihoods.

“At the same time, we're boosting Britain’s homegrown energy supply so we fix the root cause of the issues we are facing and ensure greater energy security for us all.”

Support will automatically be applied to bills and a government review will be carried out to “identify the most vulnerable non-domestic customers” to determine who the government will continue to assist once the defined period ends. As operators in the physical activity sector will need ongoing support after the initial six-month period, the outcome of this review is an issue that UK Active is particularly concerned about.

“Our data clearly shows that gyms, pools and leisure centres remain highly vulnerable to rising energy costs, given the sector’s high dependency on energy usage – costs which impact facilities all year round,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active.

“As a result, it will be essential that the government’s review concludes that gyms, pools, and leisure centres are correctly identified as a vulnerable sector that will require further, bespoke support beyond the conclusion of the price guarantee in March 2023. This bespoke support should include both a reduction in VAT and business rate relief, alongside greater ring-fenced funding for local authorities to aid public sector leisure.

“UK Active will continue to work with members and local and central government to monitor impact and encourage collaboration on a national and local level, to ensure that further and continued support is in place, proportionate to the level of sector exposure, and to avoid a cliff-edge moment when the current measures end.” 

More information about the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme can be found here: www.hcmmag.com/EnergyReliefScheme.

Read HCM's recent coverage of how health and fitness operators are innovating in the way they procure their energyhere.

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