More than half (59 per cent) of UK SMEs struggle to shop around regularly for the best energy deal, due to time restraints, according to energy provider, Utilita.
The findings come at a time when it has been reported that 80 per cent of Britain’s small businesses are overpaying for their energy.
This is in stark contrast to the UK consumer market, with almost five million people switching their electricity provider in 2016 – up by a quarter (26 per cent) on 20152.
The findings, in an independent study commissioned by Utilita on the challenges facing UK high street, reveals fewer than half of micro-businesses (46 per cent) believe they are getting a fair deal – and often face crippling upfront deposits, high tariff rates and prohibitive payment structures.
While 41 per cent of businesses review their energy at least once a year, the survey reveals 20 per cent only review their deal every two to five years – with one in ten admitting they have never shopped around for a better deal.
The Competition and Markets Authority has ordered energy firms to stop locking businesses into expensive, automatic rollover contracts – and make it easier for them to compare the cheapest energy prices. It is anticipated that these changes could help micro-businesses save up to £180 million a year.
As a result of the findings, Utilita has become the first provider to create a single tariff for micro-businesses, with flexible payment options and no upfront deposits.
Should customers face cash flow issues, Utilita will switch them onto a pay-as-you-go smart meter solution and roll up the current bill so that supply is maintained and the businesses can carry on trading – improving their credit rating at the same time.
Shaun Underwood, director of Utilita Business Energy, says, ‘We understand that many small businesses are time-poor and can find securing a fair energy deal challenging as they often face cash flow problems. More needs to be done by the UK energy sector to provide these businesses – the backbone of Britain’s economy – with a fairer and easier solution.
‘Our commitment to these businesses, no matter what their situation, is a transparent pricing philosophy which ensures all our customers are treated fairly. No matter how they choose to pay, the price stays the same, with no crippling deposits.’
According to Utilita’s findings, micro-business owners work over 44 hours a week with almost a third working over 50 hours a week to secure the success of their business.