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20 June 2018

Ombudsman welcomes spotlight on small business energy pressures

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell welcomed the spotlight on the complexity of doing business with energy retailers for Australian small businesses.

“Small businesses are often forgotten in the narrative around Australia’s energy crisis, so I’m particularly pleased to see the Australian Energy Market Commission’s focus on the growing divide between small and medium business in its annual retail energy competition report,” Ms Carnell said today.

“This report shows that small businesses absorb energy price rises, rather than passing it on to the customer. Instead, they try to reduce their energy consumption, which is often just not possible.

“What they should be doing is shopping around for a better deal. However, this is compounded by the lack of time and resources, and the complexity of the information provided to them by energy retailers.

“Energy retailers need to better target small businesses, and provide less complex information so they can quickly and easily choose the best plan for their circumstances.

“Small businesses make up more than 99% of businesses in Australia, and employ more than 5.5 million people.

“When it comes to energy consumption, small businesses are in a precarious position. They pay higher rates (than households) and use more energy (particularly manufacturers and the hospitality industry).

“Energy price hikes are no incentive to employ and invest. In fact when this happens, it can result in small business closures and job losses.

“I hope all Australian energy retailers read this report and step up to help small businesses with simple and transparent energy pricing options and flexible payment plans.”