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New Year, No Fear! Finding the Business Upside in 2023

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 16 Dec 2022

Years ago, a proverb was inscribed over the fireplace of an old Bedfordshire pub: “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No-one was there.”

It’s a reminder that, even in times of turmoil, all is often not what it threatens to be, and we believe that there are genuine signs that the coming year potentially holds hidden promise for businesses forearmed with the right knowledge and the right connections, despite the wider economic issues.

Here are a few examples of what’s on our radar.

Business rate exemptions

April 2023 will see the introduction of new financial support for investing in plant and machinery used in onsite renewable energy generation and electricity storage, in the form of a business rates exemption until 2035.

Also, a new 100% improvement relief will free businesses for 12 months from higher business rate bills caused by qualifying improvements to an existing property.

More energy-efficient operations, smaller bills, a reduced carbon footprint, and a genuine financial incentive to upgrade and/or expand buildings and facilities! 

Lower energy costs: the “Green Window”

Not a scheme as such, but an urgent opportunity identified by commentators in the industry, the “Green Window” is the idea that the Government’s six-month energy price protection plan for businesses - which extends into 2023 - can enable businesses to invest what they have saved or recouped during that period into greener and more cost-effective energy tech.

Solar panels, for example, can now deliver 25% more energy than previously, and pay back quicker. Air source heat pumps are up to 500% more efficient than gas boilers, and typically last twice as long. Modern, ductless, mini-split air conditioning typically consumes 30% less energy than ducted systems.

The Green Window is a shaft of light for businesses agonising over how they will manage energy costs in 2023. 

Relief for retail

For bricks-and-mortar retail of any kind, things were getting tough long before the pandemic, with a huge customer shift towards online retail and a steep decline in footfall in many physical shopping areas.

The good news, however, is that the Government has announced a new Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Relief Scheme that will extend through 2022 into 2023, and provide eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a 50% business rates relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000.

This will mean a significant reduction in overheads for many businesses in this sector, and in time for the peak trading periods around Christmas this year and New Year heading into 2023. 

Grants widely available

It’s often perplexing how supposedly depleted national coffers can produce all manner of financial stimuli for business in an economic downturn, but there are nonetheless around 150 grants available for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

With some geographic and other caveats attached, they cover everything from innovation, to trade shows, low-emission vehicles, productivity, and business growth. (You can get the full list from us!)

Only connect

Of course, both adversity and opportunity bring an additional challenge: choosing the best course of action in response. And without the right support, that can be very difficult.

This is why, in 2023, we plan to significantly grow our peer-to-peer and member2member networks, add to our already significant library of webinars and resources on exporting, grants, and funding, and generally connect businesses in our region to more opportunities and exploit the upside.

So, put your faith in Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce - and the fear is gone.

For more information on how membership of Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce connects SMEs to the upside in trying times, visit, or call us on (01582) 522448.

Topics: business, SMEs, Grants

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