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Energy: Billing

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will take steps to prevent energy companies changing billing review and assessment periods for small business customers other than on an annual basis; and if he will enforce automatic return to such customers of credit balances above a specified level. (322306)

[holding answer 15 March 2010]: Details of billing review and assessment periods, and the customer’s right to a credit refund for balances above a certain level are subject to the terms and conditions of individual business supply contracts. Where smaller business customers are concerned about such an issue they should in the first instance take it up with their supplier. If the supplier fails to resolve the matter satisfactorily, they should pursue their complaint through the Energy Ombudsman under the statutory redress scheme.

Ofgem looked at concerns about unfairness in contract terms in small business supply as part of its probe into the energy supply market in 2008. As a result, Ofgem recently placed an obligation on suppliers to provide clear and transparent contract terms and conditions. The changes came into effect from 18 January 2010. I would expect to see Ofgem evaluate the impact of the changes in due course and consider whether any further changes are needed to protect small business consumers.