Hardly a day goes by without an announcement or news story about energy. Much of this attention tends to focus on households. It is far rarer to hear about energy in the context of small businesses and the challenges they may face. And yet for many small businesses gas and electricity are significant running costs. Falling into arrears on an energy bill is not only a difficult experience in itself but, if unresolved, can result in a business closing down and ceasing to trade.
At Business Debtline we advised more than 30,000 small business owners in 2017. A considerable proportion of these had energy arrears. From what our advisers hear on a daily basis, we recognise the broad issues many small businesses face in relation to energy. We have worked hard to engage the energy sector and to build good relationships with many suppliers and the trade association, Energy UK.
However, we felt insight was needed to gain a better understanding of this area. To inform our work we commissioned research from the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol to explore in greater detail the impact of energy debt on the lives of those people who have contacted Business Debtline.