Energy companies have backed the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group to use its political influence to improve transparency across the non-domestic energy market.
Representatives from British Gas, EON UK and Opus Energy were recently grilled by the group as part of its inquiry into small business energy costs. All three said their message to the group was to focus on transparency.
Stephen Benyon, British Gas business managing director, also called on the MPs to use their influence to help put an end to auto-renewal contracts. “Auto renewals are a window for unscrupulous suppliers,” he said. British Gas recently announced an end to automatic rollover contracts.
The Group also heard about the impact of third-party brokers. “We pay brokers £70 of a £1,000 bill and get about £50 profit. We need to flag up third-party brokers,” Benyon said.
Ofgem spokesman Philip Cullum said the regulator was hoping to publish the size of backbills in the next few months. “We’re trying to provide info on suppliers so customers can see how they compare,” he said. Benyon said British Gas would have eliminated backbilling by the end of next year.
Cullum also praised the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and Federation of Small Businesses for their effective lobbying on backbilling.
ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan said: “We are delighted MPs are investigating this vital issue. Our campaigning has really put the problems faced by members on the agenda.”
The group’s chairwoman Priti Patel MP added: “Energy costs are a significant burden for small businesses. As energy prices have risen, it has become imperative that competition is working in the non-domestic energy market.”