Scottish firms take action on energy bills as prices soar
The crisis has also prompted many firms to look at where their energy is sourced and seeking to switch to renewables supplies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. The research from Novuna Business Finance revealed Scotland as the greenest UK region in terms of how small businesses are reacting to rising energy prices.
More than two fifths of Scottish small businesses have begun shopping around for cheaper energy deals from other suppliers, a higher percentage than the UK average.
More than a quarter (27 per cent) said they had quickly put plans in place to more closely monitor their energy usage as a business, with a further 34 per cent planning to use less energy in order to reduce their bill – and 18 per cent were looking at greener energy options to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels compared to 12 per cent UK-wide.
Almost nine out of ten firms said they were looking at how their operations could become carbon neutral with a third already having active plans in place to tackle the issue and targets to monitor their progress.
However, across the UK fewer than half of small businesses have a carbon offset plan in place and a quarter said they don't have the budget to invest in becoming more sustainable.
Jo Morris, head of insight at Novuna Business Finance, said soaring energy prices had affected small businesses across every sector of the economy.
“[They] have adapted quickly and decisively, with many shopping around for cheaper suppliers or putting in plans to reduce their energy usage. Coupled with many business leaders looking more seriously at renewable energy options, the energy price crisis has arguably been the catalyst needed – encouraging more small businesses to adopt sustainable practices that will help protect the planet,” she said.
A separate survey from Barclays this week found that three quarters of small and medium-sized companies are worried about the long-term impact soaring energy bills and rising inflation will have on their business.
The report found that rising energy costs and higher raw material prices are putting significant pressure on many businesses. More than a quarter of those surveyed said they feared that having to increase their own prices in response would make them less competitive.
Almost half of firms said they were pessimistic about the outlook for the wider UK economy, with two fifths describing the current business environment as unstable.
Confidence levels have dropped since the first quarter of the year, when more than half of those questioned reported rising sales compared with the final three months of 2021.
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