A MAJOR government intervention in the energy markets, another interest rate rise and a pretty radical, tax-cutting mini-Budget. Having had a few days to reflect on another extraordinary week of economics and politics, what’s the verdict on what it all means for us?

Let’s start with the announcement on cutting business energy bills. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme is certainly many things. It’s significant. It’s unprecedented. It’s expensive (even these days, tens of billions of pounds is a lot of money). But one thing it is definitely not is a cap or freeze on businesses’ bills.

Instead, it focuses on controlling the wholesale price at which suppliers buy units. A sensible move, as rocketing wholesale prices are the root of the pressures facing energy retailers.

It also, however, puts the ball firmly in the energy providers’ court. They now need to provide updated prices to each small business customer – prices which must pass on the benefits of the package in full.

I say “in full” because it’s also the case that standing charges are not limited by this deal, so we need to make sure what is given with one hand is not taken away with the other.

There also needs to be support for those businesses who find themselves in distress, having already paid months of inflated prices under a deal signed over the summer. And those who are missing out altogether because they signed a new fixed contract before the relief scheme’s April 1 qualification period must have the right to switch to a new contract. Pressure is also building to get some clarity on what happens when the scheme runs out in six months.

With margins wafer-thin, if in existence at all, how points like these are resolved could be the difference between businesses going under or pulling through.

Talking about evaporating margins, Thursday saw another increase in interest rates. Perhaps not as big as some had feared, but the half percentage point increase to 2.25% – the seventh rise on the spin – will still have consequences.

Not only will any loan linked to the base rate now obviously be more expensive to service (leaving less cash in the business to pay for staff, investments or materials), consumers will see their spending power limited as their domestic debts become pricier. Not brilliant for footfall in customer-facing businesses.

The thinking, as I understand it, is that dampening consumer spending helps get a grip on inflation. Bringing down inflation is obviously important, as it’s at 10 per cent when it should be at 2%. At the same time, though, if the effect is to push perfectly good businesses over the edge because their customers can’t afford to shop with them, will there be much of an economy left worth saving?

One might also ask how the Bank’s move to reduce cash in the economy by raising rates sits alongside the UK Government’s plan to fire up growth through tax cuts. Sir John Gieve, former deputy governor of the Bank of England, last week described both parties as “pulling in different directions” and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

There’s no doubt that Friday’s tax-cutting mini-Budget was aggressively aimed at boosting economic growth, setting an ambitious 2.5% target.

For example, reversing the national insurance contributions rise that came in earlier this year is great news and something for which we at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) had campaigned hard. NICs calculations are fiendishly complicated, but government figures say 920,000 UK businesses will now save an average of almost £10,000 in the next year.

Also interesting is how many of the more eye-catching announcements – on everything from income tax to investment zones to planning reform – are either wholly devolved or at least involve co-operation between our various governments. Thus, the true impact in Scotland will depend on how the Scottish Government decides to proceed.

So it’s been a lot to digest in a week, but it feels like this was just the starter and there’s a few more courses to come. However we arrive at it, though, the bottom line must be the meaningful cut in the cost of doing business which firms across the country so urgently need.

Colin Borland is director of devolved nations for the Federation of Small Businesses