Smallest firms should be freed from ‘onerous’ energy contracts, FSB claims

The FSB's Scottish policy convenor, Andy Willox. Picture: TSPL
The FSB's Scottish policy convenor, Andy Willox. Picture: TSPL
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SCOTLAND’S smallest firms could create more jobs and boost the economy if energy regulator Ofgem freed them of onerous long-term contracts,
according the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The FSB is using a Christmas message to its 20,000 Scottish members, sent out today, to call for a raft of measures that it says would help the smallest and newest businesses to grow.

Almost three quarters of Scottish FSB members saw the cost of running their business rise during the last quarter of 2012 – with fuel and energy bills disproportionately hitting businesses north of the Border.

The group is calling on Ofgem to end the energy companies’ practice of automatic contract rollovers, which sees small businesses locked into long-term contracts they often cannot afford.

Other measures the FSB thinks would boost small firms and the wider economy include tailored advice for those hiring their first employees and help moving from “spare rooms and garages” to commercial premises in town centres.

The FSB said the Scottish Government’s Better Regulation Bill, set to be unveiled in 2013, is a real opportunity for Scotland to become a model of consistency.

The body urged larger companies sitting on cash to use the ten-fold rise in investment allowance unveiled in the Chancellor’s autumn statement to “boost confidence by investing for the recovery”.

Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “The FSB believes we can make it easier for the smallest businesses to overcome the key hurdles in their development.”