Food Minister Mark Spencer is set to meet a cross-party group of MPs to discuss how the UK Government can support the food and drink supply chain and hospitality businesses through the energy crisis as inflationary pressures also continue to bite.
The session on January 18 will explore the impact the current energy crisis is having on the food and drink supply chain, how this will affect businesses across the UK, and what steps the government plans to take to support the sector after the current six-month support package is due to expire.
Members of the Food and Drink Supply Chain All-Party Parliamentary Group believe it is essential that “affordable, healthy food and drink supplies are top of the list for support and protection”.
The group said: “While thousands of food and drink businesses may have been saved from closure this winter by the energy bills relief scheme (EBRS), significant questions remain over the details of the fund after March.”
Sharon Hodgson MP, interim chair of the APPG, said: “Spiralling energy prices are having a major impact on food and drink businesses, intensifying the cost of doing business, and driving food price inflation to worrying levels.
“This is why we have invited the Food Minister Mark Spencer to give evidence to the APPG so he can outline the government’s plan to support this vital sector after the initial scheme ends in March, and to set out how we can build a stronger, more resilient supply chain in the future.”
The APPG recently took evidence from businesses across the sector and heard from witnesses about the impact of spiralling costs on their operations.
MPs heard that redundancies, business closures and a sharp decline in investment are likely to follow should businesses miss out on energy support after March.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), told the group: “Energy used to be five per cent of overheads of hospitality businesses, by July it was 10% and by the end of the year it was forecast to be 15%. We will need to see the extension of the energy support beyond six months.”
Matt Vickers, chair of the APPG, said: “Our group’s inquiry highlighted the damaging impact rising inflation, cost of living costs and energy prices are having on the sector.
“It is crucial that this sector is supported to ensure that it can continue carrying out vital work to keep our nation fed.”