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GP practices to be eligible for capped energy bills for six months

GP practices to be eligible for capped energy bills for six months

GP practices will see their energy bills capped under a six-month scheme announced by the Government today.

New Prime Minister Liz Truss today announced a set of emergency measures to support both households and businesses through the current energy crisis.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirmed to Pulse that the energy price guarantee includes GP practices.

Although there is as yet little detail on what the support looks like for businesses and public sector organisations, the new guarantee will come into force from 1 October.

The Government said this ‘will mean a typical UK household will now pay up to an average £2,500 a year on their energy bill for the next two years’ and should save an average of £1,000 a year.

This comes in addition to a previously announced £400 energy bills discount for all households.

The Government added that ‘business and public sector organisations will see equivalent support over the winter’ via a six-month scheme, with many ‘reporting projected increases in energy costs of more than 500%’.

It said this will ‘protect them from soaring energy costs and provide them with the certainty they need to plan their business’.

However it is unclear whether GP practices will be included in ‘ongoing, focused support’ the Government said would be offered to ‘vulnerable industries’ after the initial six-month scheme.

A factsheet on the new support, published by the BEIS today, said: ‘While the majority of UK non-domestic customers are on fixed-price energy deals, some are not. 

‘Businesses did not benefit from the Ofgem price cap and there was a risk that some would fall through the gap, unable to fix their energy price and unable to access the kind of support we are making available to households.’

It added: ‘A new six-month scheme for businesses and other non-domestic energy users (including charities and public sector organisations like schools) will be offered support as is being provided for consumers.

‘After this initial six-month scheme, the Government will provide ongoing focused support for vulnerable industries. There will be a review in three months’ time to consider where this should be targeted to make sure those most in need get support.’

The factsheet said ‘further details’ on the support offer for business ‘will be published shortly’.

Announcing the plans in Parliament today, Ms Truss said: ‘I know businesses and families are very concerned about how they will get through this winter.

‘That’s why I felt it was important to act urgently to provide immediate help and support, as well as setting out our plan about how we are going to secure the UK’s future supplies.’

And chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said: ‘Millions of families and businesses across the country can now breathe a massive sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that the Government is standing behind them this winter and the next. 

‘The price of inaction would have been far greater than the cost of this intervention. Not only can we provide urgent support now, but the beauty of our scheme is that it will also bring down inflation, helping tackle wider cost of living pressures.’

The measures also include plans to:

  • Reduce energy costs by negotiating long-term contracts that reduce the price suppliers charge for energy and increase the security of supply
  • Address the ‘extraordinary liquidity requirements faced by energy firms operating in UK wholesale gas and electricity markets’ via a short-term scheme
  • Make the UK an ‘energy exporter by 2040’, including by launching a new oil and gas licensing round and progressing UK shale gas production and nuclear projects

A new Energy Supply Taskforce has been set up, led by Madelaine McTernan who headed up the UK’s successful Vaccine Taskforce.

It comes as practices have warned that utility price rises will lead to practice closures unless the Government reduces the energy price cap or provides extra funding support.

The Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) said that some practices have reported increases in their energy bills of up to 665% for a fixed rate tariff, or 362% for a variable tariff.

One rural practice with 4,500 patients, which is a member of the body, has reported an annual rise in their energy bills from £9,900 to £32,000, according to the IGPM.

And Pulse revealed last month that GP practices may end up tens of thousands of pounds in deficit this winter amid rising inflation and fuel costs.