Government outlines details of school energy-bill support

The Government has unveiled details of an Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which will see it provide a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers, including schools. This support will be equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee put in place for households.

It will apply to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022, as well as to deemed, variable and flexible tariffs and contracts. It will apply to energy usage from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023, running for an initial six-month period for all non-domestic energy users. The savings will be first seen in October bills, which are typically received in November.

To administer support, the Government has set a Supported Wholesale Price – expected to be £211 per MWh for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas, less than half the wholesale prices anticipated this winter – which is a discounted price per unit of gas and electricity. This is equivalent to the wholesale element of the Energy Price Guarantee for households. It includes the removal of green levies paid by non-domestic customers who receive support under the scheme.

The level of price reduction for each business will vary depending on their contract type and circumstances:

Non-domestic customers on existing fixed price contracts will be eligible for support as long as the contract was agreed on or after 1 April 2022. Provided that the wholesale element of the price the customer is paying is above the Government Supported Price, their per unit energy costs will automatically be reduced by the relevant p/kWh for the duration of the Scheme. Customers entering new fixed price contracts after 1 October will receive support on the same basis.
    
Those on default, deemed or variable tariffs will receive a per-unit discount on energy costs, up to a maximum of the difference between the Supported Price and the average expected wholesale price over the period of the Scheme. The amount of this Maximum Discount is likely to be around £405/MWh for electricity and £115/MWh for gas, subject to wholesale market developments. Non-domestic customers on default or variable tariffs will therefore pay reduced bills, but these will still change over time and may still be subject to price increases. This is why the Government is working with suppliers to ensure all their customers in England, Scotland and Wales are given the opportunity to switch to a fixed contract/tariff for the duration of the scheme if they wish, underpinned by the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme support.
    
For businesses on flexible purchase contracts, typically some of the largest energy-using businesses, the level of reduction offered will be calculated by suppliers according to the specifics of that company’s contract and will also be subject to the Maximum Discount.

The government will publish a review into the operation of the scheme in three months to inform decisions on future support after March 2023.

Emergency legislation is being introduced to underpin the scheme. This will be subject to the standard parliamentary process for emergency legislation.

Emergency legislation will be introduced at the earliest opportunity when Parliament is back from recess in October. The precise timeline will depend on parliamentary scheduling and is still to be confirmed.
    
The government has given a demonstrative example of how this will help a school:

A school uses 10 MWh of electricity and 22 MWh of gas a month. They signed a fixed contract in July 2022, giving them a current monthly energy bill of about £10,000. At the time they signed their contact, wholesale prices for the next 6 months were expected to be higher than the Government Supported Price of £211/MWh for electricity, and £75/MWh for gas, meaning they can receive support under this scheme.

The difference between expected wholesale prices when they signed their contract and the Government Supported Price is worth £240/MWh for electricity and £70/MWh for gas, meaning they receive a discount of £4,000 per month, reducing their original bill by 40%.

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