The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is reiterating its call for local shops to be afforded the same level of protection from the energy companies’ unfair trading practices as domestic consumers ahead of the publication of the government’s new Energy Bill, expected this week.

The government hopes that the Energy Bill will allow it to meet its carbon reduction and renewable energy obligations, and will bring on the investment required to “keep the lights on”, energy and climate change secretary Edward Davey said.

However, part of the plan will see the government increase the Levy Control Framework budget from £2.35bn to £7.6bn, a move which will allow suppliers to charge customers more, in a bid to raise money towards the creation of a low carbon infrastructure.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said the levy would come as “yet another blow” to retailers who already had to contend with rollover contracts and backdated bills.

“We are continuing to campaign for local shops to have the same protections as domestic customers, chief of which is a 12 month limit on backdated bills. Ofgem needs to level the playing field for small businesses before retailers are hit with the price rises announced as part of the government’s commitment to low-carbon energy.”

Speaking exclusively to Convenience Store last week, energy regulator Ofgem did pledge to ensure that suppliers treated small businesses more fairly. It hopes to introduce a raft of reforms to improve the service provided by suppliers, which would be backed by enforcement action and fines for those found to be in breach.