Posted: Tue 2nd Jun 2015
In February 2015, Enterprise Nation called on the energy sector to dedicate funds overpaid by small businesses, to continue the work of a national programme matching small businesses with professional advice. We've been working on the call ever since.
In February 2014, the CEO of OFGEM requested the Big Six energy firms to repay an estimated Â£200 million sitting in closed accounts to small businesses who had overpaid their bills. The instruction was to try and give the money back to the small business customer or, if the customer could not be found, take the funds left over and direct them to supporting small businesses to grow.
At the time, Enterprise Nation was involved with the government Growth Vouchers programme which, due to run until March 2015, was all about encouraging businesses to take advice through match-funding of up to Â£2,000 and making it easy to find an adviser via the Enterprise Nation marketplace.
We have seen the benefits to small businesses - and their advisers - through the Growth Vouchers programme and feel this type of support should continue.
Our view was this:
Growth Vouchers came to a scheduled end in March 2015 but had only gotten started in changing the culture in Britain to one where the smallest of businesses consider taking advice
The energy sector has funds it wants to direct into supporting small businesses
Those funds would be well spent by enabling a Growth Vouchers type support programme to continue
On 25 February we made that call and you can see the details here.
The story continues...
Since then we've spoken with OFGEM, EnergyUK and three of the big six firms.
The energy firms are going through the process of working out the level of funds remaining after distribution of monies to the rightful customers.
This is taking longer than we would like but we have been asked to be patient as this process takes its course.
Our plan is to return to the energy companies in late June/early July to find out how things stand.
Whilst waiting for a response from the energy companies, we're taking action to keep advice channels open between small businesses and professional advisers. This is happening through:
Connecting Enterprise Nation members to advisers through free consultation calls
Engaging advisers from the Enterprise Nation marketplace to deliver advice via business support contracts, from Barnsley to Bristol
Hosting more events where advisers share their expertise before an audience of small businesses
And, soon to announce, a tie-up with a major social media platform to deliver tailored training to advisers wanting to ensure their clients make the most of digital opportunities
We'll continue to keep you updated. We are being patient yet remain determined to secure financial support for ensuring small businesses get the right advice, at the right time.
Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation.