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200,000 small businesses to get tool to complain about their energy supplier

Business customers will win extra protections under proposals (PA)
Business customers will win extra protections under proposals (PA)

Small businesses will be treated more like households if they have problems with their energy bill under a set of proposals from Ofgem and the Government.

Companies with fewer than 50 employees will now be able to complain about their supplier to the ombudsman.

It opens up a route for firms unhappy with the behaviour of their energy supplier and will save them money on the usual legal fees they have faced in the past if they have a complaint.

At the moment, only so-called micro businesses, which employ fewer than 10 people, are allowed to take complaints to the ombudsman.

The changes will help around 200,000 companies, the Government said.

“Businesses are no different from any energy customer and should be able to expect excellent service and fair prices,” said Ofgem director of markets Tim Jarvis.

“However, we have heard from too many businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, that this isn’t always the case.

“Today’s proposals will ensure better deals, better protection and more clarity for businesses – so they have the best chance of thriving at this difficult time.”

Minister for energy consumers and affordability, Amanda Solloway, said: “This government has always stood by businesses, and we want to ensure they are getting proper support and service in dealing with energy suppliers.

“That’s why we’re proposing expanding the reach of the Energy Ombudsman to cover an extra 200,000 businesses, allowing them to access free, impartial advice and resolve issues with their supplier without the need for an expensive trip to court.”

The changes will also expand existing standards of conduct for suppliers to all businesses, not just micro businesses.

It will give Ofgem the power to take action if suppliers behave poorly towards any business customer.

Energy companies will also have to lay out clearly the cost to a customer of using an energy broker.