David Stevens CEO of the Textile Services Association (TSA) has responded to news that laundries will not be included on the list of sectors eligible for the Energy and Trade Intensive Industries (ETII) scheme announced on Monday 9 January.  He said “Following [the] announcement, we are disappointed not to have been included on the list of sectors eligible for the ETII scheme. However, this was as expected especially as all service sectors have been totally excluded. We are currently in dialogue with Kevin Hollinrake, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business at BEIS and we will continue our lobbying efforts. 

“Even though it is not positive news, at least we have some clarity until 31 March 2024. Furthermore, as advised by the Government we need to now live in the new norm and we will have no choice but to pass on the cost increases to our customer base. “

He said that lobbying of Parliament and TSA members writing directly to their local MP has raised awareness of laundries in Parliament, but Stevens expressed surprise at a reply to a question in the House on 19 December, when Kim Leadbeater Labour, Batley and Spen asked Kevin Hollinrake, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), “what discussions he has had with the laundry business sector regarding the increases in cost of living and potential Government support for that sector; and what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the stability of that sector and the ancillary support it provides to hospitals”.

Kevin Hollinrake replied: “ We have not engaged directly with representatives from the laundry sector but continue to work with a range of business sectors including organisations representing small businesses facing increasing costs driven by global factors, including high energy and cost of living pressures.”

The reply is far from accurate, according to Stevens, who commented: “We were surprised to see Kevin Hollinrake’s answer where he mentions that they ‘have not engaged directly with representatives from the laundry sector’ as we have been sending correspondence to BEIS and the Government on a regular basis since the beginning of the pandemic. We have queried this with them and are awaiting an answer from them.”

LCN contacted BEIS for clarification. A statement from a BEIS spokesperson said: “This Government will always be on the side of business. This is why we are providing them and other non-domestic energy users with an unprecedented £18 billion package of support this winter.

“On top of this, we have pledged to continue energy support from April onwards through our Energy Bills Discount Scheme. This will be at a lower rate to reflect recent price trends and to reduce taxpayer exposure to volatile energy markets.

“A higher level of support will be provided to energy and trade intensive businesses.”

No contact?

Responding specifically to the question in House of Commons, the spokesperson stated: “Minister Hollinrake’s comments in the Chamber on 19 December were accurate at the time, as he personally had not yet had any meetings or direct engagement with the laundry sector in his time as Minister. Since then, he’s written to the Textile Services Association in response to their letter from late November. That letter has been received and acknowledged, and he’ll continue to correspond with them.”

However, since 25 April 2020 TSA has been writing to BEIS and various other Government departments and ministers laying out the case for laundries during the pandemic and in the current energy crisis for direct engagement and has produced a timeline of this correspondence.

Letters sent to BEIS since the beginning of the pandemic

To Secretary of State for BEIS, 24 November 2022

To Secretary of State for BEIS, 8 September 2022

To Secretary of State for BEIS, 4 May 2021

To Secretary of State for BEIS, 8 October 2020

To Secretary of State for BEIS, 1 July 2020

To & Secretary of State for BEIS, 12 May 2020

To Secretary of State for BEIS, 15 April 2020

Other letters to the Government: 

To Chancellor of the Exchequer, 24 November 2022

To Prime Minister, 24 November 2022

To Prime Minister, 5 September 2022

To Chancellor of Exchequer, 8 September 2022

Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, 1 February 2021

Open Letter, 3 November 2020

Open Letter, 8 October 2020

To Chancellor of the Exchequer, 8 October 2020

Open Letter, 1 July 2020

To Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1 July 2020

To Chancellor of the Exchequer, 12 May 2020

To Chancellor of the Exchequer, 15 April 2020

Open Letter, 25 March 2020

Stevens told LCN: “We are desperate to meet up with the Government and have been trying since the start of Covid. We think our industry has lot to offer and is part of the solution not the problem in terms of Covid hygiene issues and energy as commercial laundry businesses are far more efficient in both respects than domestic washing.

“Whoever was in charge at the time, there is no doubt the department received these letters. But still no meetings in person.”

In response to a reply from the Minister to Stevens’ letter of 6 January pleading the case for laundries to be included in ETII scheme, and suggesting a face to face meeting, Stevens wrote: “I know you are busy so I want to keep this reply short as I am assuming in spite of the generic nature of your reply, our correspondence has been properly understood and we can assume ‘commercial laundries’ will be included in the group of ‘non-domestic customers that remain particularly at risk to energy price rises, taking into account the latest price position and forward curves, alongside other cost pressures’.

“Laundry services are provided all over the country, wherever there is a hospital there will be a commercial laundry nearby, so we would need national recognition. Additionally, the need for continued support is vital as our energy consumption will increase by 30% during the summer months when demand rises. We predict our annual energy spend will be in excess of £400 million.”

Keep lobbying

The TSA has put together a letter template to help laundries willing to add their name to the cause.  “It’s not just who you write to, it’s what you write,” said Stevens.  “The letters need to include information about how your laundry impacts on the MP’s constituency – we need to make them understand just how important our industry is.  Do you supply a hospital in the constituency?  Mention it – and point out that without the support of commercial laundries, 90% of hospitals would have to shut down.” 

“We’re all in this together.  If enough laundries write to their MPs, we can really stir things up.  We have a strong argument for support – let’s make sure the Government gets the message!” said Stevens. 

• You can access the TSA’s letter template here

• • Full details of the Energy Bills Discount Scheme can be found here.