It’s a sign of just how serious the economic situation has become that energy prices being capped at twice the levels of a year ago is seen almost as a cause for jubilation.

Yet there is little doubt today’s announcement by the new business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg – a six-month bailout for companies on their gas and electricity bills – could be the difference for many between making it through the winter and shutting up shop.

Details of the emergency scheme, two weeks after the bailout was first promised by PM Liz Truss, come not a moment too soon. There was a welcome clarification that it will apply to all companies who have signed up to bills since April (albeit only for the six-month period in question). 

However, the flood of business leaders welcoming the news were also united in one question: what on earth happens next? Is this to be the energy equivalent of the furlough scheme and, if so, just how many companies will qualify for the longer-term support to come from March 31 2023? And how long will that last?

If anyone was under the illusion energy prices would be rectified by the spring, today’s announcement from Vladimir Putin on stepping up the onslaught on Ukraine will surely have put paid to that.

So the government package leaves many remaining questions. First, whether this payment comes quickly enough.

Suppliers and retailers will still be going into the so-called ‘golden quarter’ with energy bills at historic levels. The bailout will kick in from October 1, in line with the parallel support for domestic users. In practice, that means many will have to wait until November for the relief to come, which will undoubtedly pose questions over cashflow.

But by far the bigger question is just who will be in and out of scope of the next stage of the scheme? There is little in the way of detail emerging yet, and it all seemingly hinges on a review by Rees-Mogg to come in December.

Speaking from her trip to the US, Truss named “pubs and shops” as two types of businesses the government plans to shield in the long term. With memories still fresh of the carnage wreaked by the pandemic on those sectors, it’s understandable that hospitality is singled out for support.

But any long-term scheme that fails to take into account others in the food sector would surely fail to tackle the overall threat to our supply chain.

The industry will find out more about what the government plans to do against this most challenging backdrop on Friday, when new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng takes his turn at the dispatch box.

He is expected to unveil measures including tax cuts of up to £50bn, but many in the industry will also be hoping for a meaningful commitment, after years of tinkering around the edges, to tackle the burden of business rates. 

Officially described as a “fiscal intervention”, the phrase rather unfortunately brings to mind Putin’s own term “special military operation” – while underplaying both the enormity of this week’s events and the length of time it will take to resolve the issue.