British Gas Business launches support package to 750,000 small business customers to assist with managing costs and debt, and reducing energy bills
Nearly half (47%) of small manufacturing businesses in the UK are struggling to run successful companies today, according to research carried out by British Gas Business.
More than half (52%) of small manufacturers surveyed by Datamonitor*, on behalf of the BGB, the UK’s largest supplier of energy to businesses, admitted to delaying paying energy bills for as long as possible, presumably as a means of making incomings and outgoings match up.
To help its customers, BGB is launching a support package called SAVE (Small business Advice and Value Expertise). The initiative will support BGB’s estimated 750,000 small businesses with a more flexible approach to managing their costs and debt. The new service also provides advice and practical help on how they can reduce their energy costs through efficiency measures.
British Gas estimates that about 40,000 small business customers may at some point require special assistance or flexibility on their energy bill payments during the recession and have launched a dedicated Expert Credit Solutions team to provide support. The key components of the SAVE initiative are:
• A dedicated Expert Credit Solutions team to help advise, support and resolve debt problems for small businesses who are experiencing difficulty in repaying their energy bills
• Advice on how to reduce energy consumption via their dedicated account manager plus access to a tailored energy assessment (ESCO) based on a visit to their business by a trained energy assessor
• Energy Savers Packs: a pack of energy saving products including standby savers, energy saving light bulbs, radiator panels, and a Save the Worker Pack that includes posters, stickers and collateral to remind staff of the steps they can take to reduce their energy consumption, including switching off lights and machines when not in use – to help businesses encourage behaviour change amongst staff
• Use of an online assessment tool (Energy Saver’s Report) to provide guidance on energy consumption reduction.
The research revealed that although 52% of small manufacturing businesses say that they are making the decision to delay paying bills, only 33% are making an effort to reduce energy consumption at work, because they’re not sure what they can do to make an impact.
From April, for the fist time all businesses will be able to get a free online audit of their energy consumption. As part of the SAVE initiative, organisations will be able to log on to https://britishgas.co.uk/BGB-EnergySaversReport/EnergyEfficiency/ and complete an Energy Saver’s Report, which helps them to evaluate how much they are spending on energy annually and will benchmark their energy efficiency rating relative to other businesses of their size and type. The report offers hints and tips on ways to reduce consumption through both simple behaviour change and by investing in energy efficiency technologies.
Erica Russell, Business Link adviser said: “Efficient use of energy is both environmentally good practice and also a simple and very effective way of cutting business costs, which is so essential in the current economic climate. Initiatives by the private sector to encourage energy efficiency and help businesses put this into practice are therefore welcome.”
Kanat Emiroglu, director of SME markets at British Gas Business, said: “We work with a lot of small manufacturing businesses throughout the country — we’ve developed some tips on how organisations can become more energy efficient, which we hope will help them weather the economic storm and emerge in better shape.”
Assistance can take place in the form of specially negotiated extended repayment periods or even advice from specialist sources such as partner Money Advice Trust[**].
For further information on SAVE, please log on to www.britishgas.co.uk/business or contact your BGB account manager.
*Datamonitor SME Survey, 2003-2008.
** Money Advice Trust (MAT) is a charity set up to increase the quality and availability of free, independent money advice in the UK.