Energy companies switching their rip-off tactics to small businesses - Flint

5 April 2012

Caroline FlintCaroline Flint MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has accused the Big Six energy companies of turning their fire onto Britain’s small businesses to escape the safeguards given to families and households. She said:

"After years of ripping off hard-pressed families and pensioners, energy companies are coming under pressure to clean up their act. Now it looks like they’re turning their fire onto shops and small firms instead. Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy, but the big energy companies are getting away with highway robbery.

"Lots of firms are getting caught out by the small print when they sign up for new deals, or put on rip-off tariffs when their contracts end. To add insult to injury, when energy companies give dodgy meter readings or get the bill wrong, small businesses can be forced to pick up the tab for up to six years – leaving them with crippling debts. The rip-off has to stop.

"Like families and pensioners, many firms are struggling with soaring fuel bills. Labour’s plan would stop the big energy companies ripping off our small businesses and give a shot in the arm to Britain’s struggling economy."

It comes as Labour launches a three-point plan to give Britain’s small businesses the same basic protections as families and households with their energy bills. Labour’s plans would mean:

1. Energy companies would be banned from offering unfair contracts and rolling small businesses over on to more expensive tariffs without their consent.
2. Small businesses would only be able to be back-billed for one year, and not subjected to six years of crippling back-billing, which at the moment can run into tens of thousands of pounds.
3. Energy suppliers would have to take into account small businesses’ ability to pay any debt, and come up with a realistic and reasonable repayment plan, and not demand full payment immediately.