UNLESS the new Prime Minister acts quickly next week on the energy crisis, I fear that many small businesses in Gloucestershire will soon be on their knees.

The cost of living crisis and the cost of doing business are two sides of the same coin and both seem equally gloomy.

The British Chambers of Commerce, as part of which Business West is a major player, are telling the new Prime Minister that companies must have urgent financial support.

They have submitted a five point plan to provide the vital help that companies need over the next few months-some of them to actually survive crippling energy costs.

The plan includes:

*Ofgem being given more power to strengthen the regulation of the energy market for business.

*A temporary cut in VAT to reduce energy costs for firms.

*SMEs to be given Covid-style support with Government Emergency Energy Grants.

*A temporary reverse of National Insurance Contributions to put money back into business and workers.

*A review and reform of the Shortage Occupation List(SOL) to ease wages pressures and fill staffing vacancies.

This plan has nothing to do with politics-it is simply a route to help business cope with the highest cost of inflation for 40 years at 10% and some scary forecasts it could reach 18% early next year.

Our prosperity is predominantly based on the efforts of small businesses-and there are thousands of those in Gloucestershire.

If these SMEs are being forced to face energy increases up to three times their normal bills, there is a limit to what they can afford to stay viable.

The generation of wealth is so very much linked to the generation of energy and our companies simply must be helped to survive as they were during Covid.

Government must now grasp the nettle to support business to stay in business.

Nothing more, nothing less.