What about SMEs? Business lobby speaks out after Clegg unveils new energy tariff scheme


More should be done to help London’s small businesses find the cheapest energy tariffs, it has been claimed.

The call to help businesses find the best energy deals has come after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg unveiled a new scheme which requires energy companies to let customers know if another tariff suits them better. It could save residential customers up to £100 a year.

The plan for residential users has been backed by companies such as British Gas, EDF, E.ON and Scottish Power.

But no plans have been announced to help business users, who have been faced with rising energy bills much like residential customers.

UK Power’s Jacob Duursma confirmed companies would have to do their own homework to find the best deal.

He said: “The announcement from Nick Clegg just affects domestic customers and so business users will not be affected. Business customers can either call around suppliers to get different quotes or use a broker, like us, to negotiate a better deal.”

While it is possible for companies to shop around for the best deal, this would take up valuable time that firms simply don’t have, according to Federation of Small Businesses London senior development manager Matthew Jaffa.

He believes businesses in the capital and across the country could benefit from a similar system to the residential scheme announced by Clegg.

“It’s a time issue for small firms. You don’t have enough time to hire staff to trawl through websites or check the tax implications, considering the average business has to spend hours every week dealing with their tax and the same goes for red tape.

“Businesses tend to go for the deal that’s laid out in front of them, so a comparison scheme would be welcome.”

Jaffa said small businesses that run with three or four employees would be in a similar position to a household. Providing more information regarding ways to save money would be helpful for businesses in the difficult economic environment, he added.

A report from British Gas earlier this year suggested that businesses should also consider changing their behaviour in order to cut energy bills.

Nearly half (46 per cent) of business electricity usage happens outside of the typical business hours of 8am to 6pm, data from more than 6,000 smart meter readings showed.