More small businesses, including convenience stores, will be able to access to specialist support for disputes with their energy supplier, under new government plans announced on Thursday (7).
Under new proposals, companies with up to 50 employees would qualify for support from the Energy Ombudsman – with issues ranging from disputes over bills and energy supply, to how an energy product or service has been sold, or wider customer service issues.
Currently, this support is only available to businesses of up to 10 employees, and households. Making this move will enable these businesses to settle disputes with their energy supplier without facing costly court fees – ultimately saving them money.
It follows a survey conducted by regulator Ofgem, which found that 94 per cent of the total respondents, which included businesses organisations, consumer groups, and suppliers, said they would welcome this move.
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 Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) was among those to welcome the plans.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “The energy market can be extremely difficult for convenience retailers to navigate, particularly when there are issues with billing and supply.
“The introduction of this support will be positively received by local shops, as it will enable retailers to resolve energy disputes efficiently and affordably.”