Dear Secretary of State
Congratulations on your recent appointment to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We wish you well in your role.
We were deeply saddened by the recent passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and understand entirely that your department is focusing on essential matters only in the coming days. One of those essential matters, the cost crisis facing businesses, is the reason for writing to you today.
Scotland Food & Drink is the leadership body for the food and drink sector in Scotland, working in partnership with other trade bodies and the public sector to grow the value and reputation of the industry. We are proud to have over 400 members contributing to our organisation, working with us to ensure Scotland continues to be internationally recognised as a land of amazing food and drink.
We welcomed the Prime Minister’s speech to Parliament, and the subsequent “Energy bills support factsheet”, both of 8th September, confirming that businesses across the UK will receive comparable support to that being offered to households.
We await the detail with interest and note that business support is due to last for six months with a three-month review to determine which sectors will continue to receive support beyond then.
Our first request is that, during your review, you take into account the uniquely perilous situation facing businesses along the food and drink supply chain, including processors and manufacturers. Energy price support for these businesses must remain in place because:
We need to avoid rising food prices to protect consumers during the continuing cost-of-living crisis. We need to also avoid job losses and we especially want to avoid business closure. Without continued support for cost prices, we fear these are inevitable.
We wrote last week to the Prime Minister asking for further interventions in the following areas, some of which fall within your purview. We further request that, where they fall within your direct responsibility, you consider these further, and for those areas outwith your responsibility, your support to your Cabinet colleagues would be appreciated:
We believe that we can alleviate the short-term cost challenges by working together and our final request is that you meet with us and the key trade bodies across the Scottish industry to discuss these issues in more detail.
We have written in similar terms to the Scottish Government urging it to bring forward interventions in devolved areas of policy. It is clear to us, our members, and the wider industry, that continued leadership and action across the UK Government holds the key to unlocking a large part of this challenge and we are committed to working constructively with you to achieve this.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Interim Chief Executive