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Red tape for small businesses in the UK

Guest Post

by Iain Walker

In the latest of our series of guest blogs Iain Walker, Head of SME Sales and Marketing at E.ON tackles the red tape prevalent for small businesses in the UK.

Red tape presents a higher risk than cash flow woes for small businesses

Small businesses just want to be left to get on with running their business, demanding less bureaucracy, less red tape and less complexity if they are to grow and be successful in the current economic climate. That’s the finding from a recent survey* of 750 SMEs from across the UK, with around three quarters (73%) believing their prospects are hampered by complex tax systems and over-regulation.

Interestingly, the significance of energy to SMEs was also highlighted in the research, with 40% citing its supply as the most important factor for business continuity, ahead of staffing issues (34%), or delivery problems (39%).

However, as an industry, energy suppliers are probably still in the red when it comes to simplicity and transparency with customers. A major gripe often voiced by SMEs is the practice of some suppliers back billing for up to six years, potentially resulting in distress and cash flow problems for many businesses impacted by this issue.

So, what can small businesses do to avoid being re-billed for previous incorrect bills?

  1. Check your bills. Are they correct and is the supplier using the correct meter reads?
  2. Provide regular reads to your supplier, many offer the facility to provide reads online or simply give them a call.
  3. If you believe the reads are incorrect or your meter is faulty, contact your supplier and they will check and decide best next steps to validate.
  4. Take a photo of your meter and send it in an email to your supplier and check to see if the correct reads are being used.
  5. Ask your supplier if they have options around installing a smart meter.
  6. If you have different rates for day and night check your charges for each… does this look right? If not contact your supplier.
  7. If you aren’t sure who your supplier is call your local distribution company (ECOES).

In addition, keep on lobbying your MPs, trade associations and consumer groups to encourage all suppliers to adopt E.ON’s stance and limit the back-billing period to one year for SME customers.

Also, let us know what you think of this issue at Energy Forecaster and use this forum to highlight your concerns.

* Independent research carried out by E.ON amongst 750 decision makers at UK small-to-medium sized enterprises, in April 2013;


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