It wasn’t long ago that Ed Miliband jumped onto the side of small businesses and promised them some much-needed help against energy providers. And despite some vaguely positive noises from the energy firms since, a new survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed the extent to which SMEs feel unfairly treated on the energy front.
A staggering four fifths 81% of FSB members said that energy suppliers did not care about their needs, with only a quarter (27%) saying there was enough competition in the energy market. The survey went on to find that there is a long way to go before energy suppliers are capable of regaining the trust of their small business customers and that small firms desperately need the energy market to become fairer and more transparent.
Moreover, two thirds (65%) of small businesses think it is difficult to switch energy suppliers, with unclear notice periods, complicated contract terms and the speed of the switching process the biggest problems cited. Nevertheless, those surveyed did see some easy solutions. Four in five small firms (81%) agreed that published tariffs would have a positive impact on their business, with the main benefits being more competitive pricing and easier switching of accounts.
The FSB is now calling for energy suppliers to take action and publish easily comparable prices for small business customers, commit to not reintroducing rollover contracts and ensure customers who want to switch suppliers can easily do so. “It’s clear from our research that many small businesses don’t trust the big energy suppliers to deliver a smarter, fairer and more transparent billing process as four in five of our members say that energy companies don’t care about them,” said John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.
Small businesses are clearly being left out in the cold by energy suppliers but such changes could help bring them back into the warmth.