Ofgem and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero have submitted proposals to expand protection for businesses in response to the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) plea for more support as winter bills bite.
The FSB had called on Ofgem and other energy suppliers alike late last month, signalling that changes in contracts and standing charges must be made as small businesses still battle high utility bills.
The energy regulator launched a statutory consultation on proposals, ensuring businesses get the “highest standards” of service, as well as providing clarification on the costs being paid to third parties.
Tim Jarvis, director of markets for Ofgem, said: “Businesses are no different from any energy customer and should be able to expect excellent service and fair prices.
“However, we have heard from too many businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, that this isn’t always the case.
“Today’s proposals will ensure better deals, better protection and more clarity for businesses – so they have the best chance of thriving at this difficult time.”
Of 816 surveyed small businesses, over 57 per cent said utilities were the main cause for rising business costs in the third quarter of this year, according to the FSB’s Small Business Index last month.
Tina McKenzie, FSB policy chair, said: “We welcome the launch of the consultation on Ofgem’s proposals to provide greater protection for businesses.
“It shows the energy regulator has listened to our calls to take action against poor customer services and narrow the treatment gap between small businesses and domestic customers.”
Ofgem isn’t the only one accommodating to the plea for small business support, however, as the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero also listened in on the raised concerns and submitted new proposals to allow businesses with fewer than 50 employees access to Energy Ombudsman.
Currently, the support is only made available to micro-businesses, which are those with fewer than 10 employees.
“Expanding existing rules on Standards of Conduct to all businesses regardless of their size is also a welcome move,” McKenzie added.
“This will send a clear message to energy suppliers that there would be no tolerance of unfair treatment of their small business customers.”
By Jennifer Sieg via CityAM
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