Could you be a vulnerable energy customer?

We all think we should be paying less for our energy. Chances are, we’re probably right.

When we talk about vulnerable customers potentially suffering at the hands of utility giants, we think of consumers who are struggling to access competitive tariffs or even smart technology which can lower energy usage and therefore bills. However, SMEs and microbusinesses can also find themselves at the mercy of the large energy suppliers.

The UK has long been heralded as the land of entrepreneurs, there were a record 5.7 million SMEs at the start of 2017, according to the Federation of Small Businesses ( ). The latest stats show an increase of 197,000 over 2016 and a mighty 2.2 million more than in 2000.

Bearing in mind, 99.3% of private enterprises in the UK at the start of 2017 were small businesses and 99.9% were SMEs, that’s an awful lot of commercial customers for the energy sector.

You would think as a large collective voice, they would be highly influential when it comes to ensuring they receive a great deal.

That’s not always the case as our own experience shows.

One of our customers, a classic SME, arguably, a take-away operated by a married couple with a new-born baby was forced to close its doors for a number of weeks after they were (wrongly) slapped with a £57k energy bill they couldn’t pay. We sorted out the issue and found them a more competitive tariff which enabled them to carry on serving fish and chips to their very grateful customers .

Our fast food customer was just one of 55 vulnerable business customers we helped in 2017.

It’s not just our experience either, earlier this year a report in The Times ( ) highlighted the problem saying small businesses were ‘paying through the nose’ for their power.

Referring to small businesses as the commercial equivalent of vulnerable customers following Ofgem in the hot seat facing MPs questions on protecting vulnerable consumers from extortionate energy bills, the article urged attention to turn to SMEs.

Pointing out that the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) estimates small businesses are paying an incredibly £500m more in energy bills than if the market functioned properly, the article questions the huge profits energy suppliers enjoy for what is a commodity.

Incidentally, the CMA also found 45% of microbusinesses (employing less than 10 people) were stuck on their suppliers’ most expensive default tariff.

The article also criticises brokers who also benefit from large commissions and do not necessarily provide the best priced tariff. For your peace of mind, finding the most competitive tariff for our customers is at the heart of our business model and our SME customers will back that up .

Innovators like Squeaky Clean Energy, which enables businesses to buy energy direct from clean generators sourcing energy from wind, wave and solar, are beginning to shake up the sector and there are plenty of honest energy consultancies like us which source tariffs from more than 30 providers, not just the so-called ‘big six’ thereby increasing the likelihood of identifying the most competitive tariff.

If you’re concerned you could be paying more for your energy than is necessary, we will explore and report back.