SME Utility Bills

Business bodies are publishing their wishlists thick and fast in the run-up to next Wednesday’s 2014 Budget, with most asking for stricter late payment laws, tax cuts for small businesses and action to tackle the UK’s skills shortage. The Federation of Small Businesses, which lobbies Government on behalf of its 200,000 members, this week added another item for consideration; consumer-style purchase protection for freelancers, contractor and micro-businesses.

The FSB believes SMEs often lose out when purchasing utilities due to a lack of expertise, poor bargaining power and a proportionally much higher opportunity cost (i.e. the time the self-employed invest in research and purchasing).

The body is calling for the Communications Act 2003, which regulates the telecoms industry, to be used as a template for expanding protections for small businesses, a group which currently enjoys far less protection than domestic consumers and big businesses.

The FSB’s National Chairman John Allan said:

“Small, and especially micro, firms don’t have the same capacity to make buying decisions in the way large businesses do. They have much more in common with domestic consumers and we believe it makes sense for the level of consumer protection afforded to micro and small firms to reflect that.

“Every minute small business owners spend away from running their business costs them, so many owners aren’t in a position to spend time to find the best deal from their energy supplier. As part of major reforms we want to see in the energy market, the big six should publish their tariffs for small business customers in a clear and transparent way. Business owners want to make informed decisions on which energy supplier to choose and not being able to make meaningful price comparisons places too big a burden on the smallest firms.”

The 2014 Budget will be announced next Wednesday, 19th March.

Photo by temporalata