Energy Exploitation of Small Businesses Must End

November 27, 2006 3:31 PM

Jenny Willott MP has tabled an early day motion in Parliament calling for small business to be given the same energy consumer rights as domestic and larger consumers, as part of the 'Make the Connection' Campaign run by Energywatch and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Commenting, Jenny said:

"Wales' 10,000 small and medium sized businesses are the engine of the Welsh economy and yet they are exposed to exploitation and discrimination over their energy bills.

"Small businesses pay some £3bn in energy bills every year but have none of the consumer protection rights that other customers enjoy. With energy bills rocketing over the last few years, it is essential that our small businesses do not get their fingers burnt.

"Small businesses can find themselves sucked into contracts they cannot get out of, made to sign misleading and exploitative energy deals and unable to get information they need, like price comparisons, to make an informed decision over their energy supplier.

"It seems that for some energy sales agents, small businesses are an open treasure chest waiting to be plundered. This must end.

"Small businesses in Wales need and deserve to have fair and open energy contracts, be able to switch their suppliers when they want to and be protected from exploitation by proper codes of conduct.

"I sincerely hope that other Welsh MPs will join this campaign to end the energy exploitation of our small businesses and to give them a fair deal in a high energy cost environment."

Notes:

A comparison of consumer protection rights and practices for domestic and small businesses:

Jenny Willott MP has tabled the following EDM along with her fellow Welsh Liberal Democrat MPs:

MAKE THE CONNECTION

That this House welcomes the Make the Connection joint campaign by energywatch and the Federation of Small Businesses to get a better deal for small businesses from the energy market; recognises that small businesses get far less protection from regulation and industry codes of practice than domestic energy consumers, which can lead to them experiencing significant problems in the market; notes that incidences of mis-selling by energy suppliers such as those highlighted in the BBC's Watchdog programme on 24th October 2006 can cause particular detriment to small businesses due to the lack of a cooling-off period in business energy contracts; and calls on business energy suppliers to acknowledge and address this situation and to recognise the importance of small businesses as energy customers, as they spend more than £3 billion each year on gas and electricity.

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