SMEs urged to shop around as energy bills set to rise by 40 per cent

Online price–comparison service Make It Cheaper has urged small firms to shop around for the best gas and electricity deals, as analysts have predicted that prices are set to rise by as much as 40 per cent by the end of the year.

“Good deals are available to anyone prepared to break the rolling cycle of renewal contracts by shopping around and switching supplier,” said Make It Cheaper’s managing director Jonathan Elliott. “In the face of economic downturn, it is small firms that are under the most pressure to remain profitable, and controlling business costs such as electricity bills is an important part of staying afloat,” he added.

Utility Watch sales director Lance Pearson agreed that small firms are failing to shop around.

“Most small firms will pay their utility bills as a matter of course, as long as they are not extremely high and fall within 15 per cent of whatever they were charged last year,” he said. “In many cases, customers are blinded by contractual complexities or are ignorant of the real pricing structures of utilities and accept what looks good on the service,” added Pearson.

“The gradual increase in utility costs has been felt among UK businesses for some time and they have adjusted their finances accordingly,” he said. “But, by adopting a similar ‘shopping around approach’ as the consumer sector, savings for commercial organisations could be considerable.”

A committee of MPs has asked the six major UK energy firms to defend the predicted big increases in gas and electricity prices.

Energy company E.ON chief executive Dr Paul Golby, responded: “We are seeing a seismic shift in commodity prices – it’s not difficult to see that the pressure is upwards.”

According to research from Electricity4Business, one in five small firms with less than 20 employees is spending more than ten per cent of its annual turnover on energy bills.

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