Business leaders have warned that the economic crisis brought on by record levels of inflation will be worse than the 2008 recession, as West Yorkshire firms miss out on vital support.

West Yorkshire’s business committee chair, Clr Shabir Pandor, who is the leader of Kirklees Council, has called on the Government to provide further support to prevent a jobs crisis in the region.

Thousands of businesses across the region are set to be disproportionately affected by high energy bills as the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme comes to an end in April 2023.

At a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Business, Economic and Innovation Committee, members expressed concern as it was estimated that 5,000 businesses in key sectors would miss out on support. Some businesses that will miss out on the support includes manufacturing industry, hospitality, construction, utilities and aggregate.

Business leaders also stated that pressure on household budgets would lead to further strain on businesses – with people spending less on our high streets and in hospitality such as restaurants and bars.

New data shared with the committee shows that around 188,000 households in West Yorkshire will be pushed into fuel poverty after the Government scraps the Energy Price Guarantee in April 2023, with most people’s bills rising by around £900 annually.

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin

Measures were put in place by the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, in December, to support struggling businesses across the region.

This includes a £1 million Energy Price Emergency Grants scheme to provide businesses with practical support such as help to buy a more efficient boiler or install low energy lighting.

In addition to this, the Mayor has also launched a £3 million cost of living emergency fund, which is already helping the most vulnerable by addressing issues like food insecurity, fuel poverty and mental health.

The committee discussed a new package of support for businesses which would launch in April and focus on helping organisations become more energy efficient and sustainable.

Business leaders hailed the scheme, which is funded by the Mayor of West Yorkshire, as a win. Not only will the package reduce bills, but it will also help deliver the Combined Authority’s ambitions of tackling the climate emergency.

Clr Pandor, chair of the Business, Economy and Innovation Committee, said: “We know that businesses up and down the region are struggling and the Government must recognise the real pressures facing ordinary people in places like West Yorkshire.

“We’re doing what we can, with the Mayor’s emergency cost of living fund, but there’s no denying that there will be many challenges for businesses and households in the coming months.

“We need Ministers to act now, before thousands more are plunged into further debt and deprivation.”