Ofgem has today launched a consultation on its updated proposals to ensure that businesses, and particularly small businesses, are able to get the best deal on the market and can avoid spending lots of time managing their energy accounts.  Click here for a copy of the consultation.

Andrew Wright from Ofgem has said that small businesses want “fairer treatment from suppliers, clearer information about contracts, and more protection from misselling”.  The proposals in the consultation seek to address these issues by putting in place further regulatory requirements on suppliers, such as:

  • requiring suppliers to provide the contract end date on the bills of small businesses and the date by which they need to send in a termination notice;
  • introducing binding standards of conduct in relation to billing, contracting and switching suppliers; and
  • increased monitoring of the level and type of supplier objections to switching to maintain competitive pressure on suppliers.

Ofgem is also extending existing protection in relation to clear contract terms currently afforded to “micro” business customers (with typically less than 10 employees) to small businesses who, on average,  spend up to £10,000 a year on fuel, resulting in additional protection for a further 150,000 businesses.

The consultation also proposes the introduction of a common code of practice for third party intermediaries, i.e. energy brokers, to regulate and guard against aggressive selling tactics and the provision of inaccurate or misleading information.  Ofgem has recognised that the role of third party intermediaries may expand as energy markets develop, for example, as a result of smart meter roll out and the development of energy management services.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 21 December 2012.