Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your Business Energy Guidance

Official Guidance for Businesses Looking to Manage Energy Supply

What is the official guidance for businesses looking to manage their energy supply during COVID-19? Since the start of the pandemic, it’s been essential for stakeholders within the energy industry to adhere to invariable principles: protecting consumers, ensuring secure energy supply and maintaining safety of customers and employees.

We’re going to review some of the guidance provided by Ofgem on how your business can access additional support from the energy sector with regards to COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a new illness caused by a Coronavirus. It affects your lungs and airways and impedes breathing. It has had a devastating impact globally.

Naturally, governments around the world are responding to the crisis, implementing measures to control the virus. The UK government regularly updates the official guidance, which is available in full at gov.uk/coronavirus.

In this blog, we’re going to review some of the official guidance for businesses, from Ofgem, around energy support which is relevant to businesses managing their energy supply.

Official guidance for businesses

Is support available? What can I do if I’m struggling with my business energy bills?

As a business, if you’re finding it hard to pay your energy bills, there are many guides published by the government on the different levels of financial support available. You can click the link here to find out what financial support you could access during coronavirus.

For escalated enquiries and further advice, you can visit the Citizens Advice Small Business Guide or alternatively, support and information is available from the Financial Conduct Authority.

For businesses who have been told they could be disconnected, there is extensive advice available in Citizens Advice’s small business energy guide.

Should I stop my direct debit payments if I’m struggling?

This might not be a good idea. If you are facing any payment difficulties, it’s something your supplier should know quickly.

For all Northern Gas and Power customers, your Business Account Manager will be able to arrange contact between you and your business energy supplier.

If you decide to cancel your Direct Debit, you may actually incur credit penalties, fines and other extra costs to your business.

If you are facing any Direct Debit difficulties, your supplier should know quickly.

If you are facing any payment difficulties, it’s something your supplier should know quickly.

Do I have the option to suspend my bills?

As we’ve mentioned, your supplier should be made aware of your circumstances. This is something your Business Account Manager can help with or arrange for you.

If an arrangement cannot be made, or help from your supplier is not forthcoming, you can make use of the official guidance for businesses and support which is available on the government website on financial support for businesses during coronavirus.

A much quicker, and more feasible option is to check if switching your business energy tariff or your energy supplier will help you pay less for your energy. If you haven’t switched for a while, you’re probably going to get a cheaper renewal with favourable pricing, including cheaper standing charges. See our guide on how you can make significant savings on your business energy here.

If you’d like to look into possible savings on a business energy renewal, you can contact Northern Gas and Power for free on +443300300800 or alternatively, you can use our 10-second price comparison website BusinessEnergyQuotes.com.

Do I have to keep paying my standing charge while my business is closed?

In short, yes. But some suppliers may be able to reach an agreement with you during the current pandemic. They may account for your business closure and arrange better terms for you.

For all Northern Gas and Power customers, your Business Account Manager will be able to arrange contact between you and your business energy supplier.

A much quicker, and more feasible option is to check if switching your business energy tariff or your energy supplier will help you pay less for your energy.

If you haven’t switched for a while, you’re probably going to get a cheaper renewal with favourable pricing, including cheaper standing charges.

See our guide on how you can make significant savings on your business energy here.

Can I ask to be disconnected myself to save money?

You can do this, in theory, but you’ll incur a cost for disconnecting your supply. There’ll also be another charge for when you decide to reconnect your supply in the future.

Your circumstances should be known to your supplier and contacting them to provide information is something our Business Account Managers are able to do for you on your behalf.

Basic energy saving principles have long-lasting benefits for your business.

How can you save on your energy bills?

How can I save on my energy bills while my business is closed?

To save on your energy bills while your business is closed, you install some basic energy saving principles which have long-lasting savings benefits for you and your business.

We have published a guide on some proven energy saving methods which you can read here.

Further advice and helplines

Who supplies my business energy? What should I do if I don’t know?

Finding out who your commercial gas and electric suppliers are might not be as easy as it sounds. Sometimes, the information isn’t to hand and can complicate billing for your business. This isn’t something you want if you’re struggling anyway.

Fortunately, there are a range of actions you can take to find out about your energy supply. Read our extensive guide here for more information.

You should make sure to only use verifiable and trusted sources of information about COVID-19.

You should make sure to only use verifiable and trusted sources of information about COVID-19.

Protect yourself from scams

Sadly, there has been an increase in the number of phishing attempts made online. You should make sure to only use verifiable and trusted sources of information about COVID-19.

Scams have started to become more intricate, resulting in fake online guidance, text messages and insurance or compensation policies.

If you do receive any unsolicited contact through calls or emails about the coronavirus, particularly if it involves your finances, don’t click on any links or hand over any sensitive information.

All official matters relating to coronavirus will be found on the government website, and this should be where you go for verification of information or any activity you’re intending to take.

What are Northern Gas and Power doing?

As far back as January 2020, we responded quickly to the challenges presented by the pandemic by instating a raft of operational changes. We acted immediately, even before national lockdowns were enforced.

It was important for us to create an atmosphere with the best interests of our employees and our clients in mind. With many of our clients involved in critical services, such as NHS Surgeries, Care Homes and Schools, it was essential for us to help maintain our energy services to keep these operations running.

During the peak of the pandemic, it was crucial to cater for the most vulnerable in society, and Northern Gas and Power onboarded this responsibility immediately by continuing our energy services to these sectors.

We also offered our internal departments, including our bureau, legal, finance and IT departments, pro bono, to any business that needed advice on implementing government support packages.

To ensure that our services could continue safely, we invested in new, emergency office spaces as well as investing in technology to allow for home-working Remote Distributed Teams.

Responsibility regarding COVID-19 has been incumbent upon us as a leading business in the North. We’ve consistently gone above and beyond expectations in this unprecedented time.

We always continue to keep updated with the advice from government, and we’ll continue to act accordingly with the best interests of our employees and our clients in mind.

 

Rasheed Ahmed, 11 March 2021

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