The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) has welcomed a new consultation from energy regulator Ofgem aimed at holding suppliers to account for overcharging businesses.
The move comes after leading cross-sector associations, including the Fed, co-signed an open letter to Ofgem from not-for-profit energy consultancy Box Power CIC challenging the energy regulator to take immediate action to protect smaller businesses that are being taken advantage of.
The Fed’s National President Muntazir Dipoti said: “Independent convenience retailers are the fabric of society and play a critical role in their communities, but with the cost of doing business soaring, many Fed members are struggling to stay in business.
“Businesses who signed contracts at the peak of the energy prices need more support now. Government help was cut too soon to help these businesses and the energy companies are not doing enough to help through moving to blend and extend contracts or offering early exit from agreements.”
In its consultancy document, Ofgem highlights a number of proposals for changes to the non-domestic energy market to make it fairer for businesses.
- Changing the rules to require timely responses to complaints, widening the standards of conduct rules and access to the Energy Ombudsman beyond just microbusinesses
- Fairer deemed (out of contract) rates to ensure that they are not ‘unduly onerous’
- Transparency on bills so that businesses understand price changes and have clear information about additional charges that are added to their bills as a result of dealing with third party intermediaries (TPIs)
- Expanding TPI dispute resolution facilities beyond microbusinesses to include larger non-domestic customers
- Calling on the government to regulate the TPI market, which is currently not directly covered by Ofgem
The full consultation document is available at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/non-domestic-market-review-findings-and-policy-consultation.
The Fed will be responding to the consultation in due course.