Local shops should be given the same level of help accessing fairer energy tariffs as consumers, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) claims.

The energy secretary Ed Davey yesterday (November 20) announced plans to reduce the number of tariffs that energy companies can give their customers to four. The plans would also require suppliers to switch their customers to the lowest available tariff unless they objected.

The ACS is calling on the government to include local shops, who are routinely overcharged by their energy suppliers, in the plans.

Chief executive James Lowman said: “Tariffs for small businesses are just as confusing as those given to consumers, if not more so. Many local shops are not big companies – they are small family businesses working 50-60 hour weeks and they simply do not have time to go through pages and pages of paperwork to work out which tariff is best for them.”

Over the last year, ACS has found that more than one in three local shops have been overcharged by their energy supplier and 31% have reported above-inflation rises in their energy tariff.

 “Even the smallest businesses receive fewer protections than consumers on issues like contract terms and backdated bills,” Lowman continued. “If the government is really committed to giving everyone a fairer deal on energy, they should introduce these plans across the board.”

Ofgem is currently consulting separately on other measures to improve the non-domestic energy market, and ACS plans to respond in December.