30% of UK’s small and medium-sized businesses could be forced to temporarily close due to energy crisis

Monday, 25th October 2021, 1:02 pm

Almost a third of the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses could be forced to temporarily close their workplaces and ask staff to work from home if they can - not due to the pandemic but because of concerns over the energy crisis, it has emerged.

A survey of 1,000 SME decision makers revealed 62 per cent are concerned the rise in energy costs is going to affect their ability to run a business this winter.

And 30 per cent are considering major savings by asking employees to work from home while they navigate soaring costs.

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With bills going up, 93 per cent said they were frustrated when energy is wasted in the workplace, with 91 per cent telling staff to be more mindful when it comes to the way they use power at work.

How much money is wasted

Overall, respondents estimate they’re wasting more than £900 of energy per year – with 85 per cent suspecting staff are more energy conscious at home rather than work.

The research was carried out by Smart Energy GB, the not-for-profit campaign tasked with helping Britain to understand the benefits of smart meters to people, businesses and the environment.

The organisation has teamed up with TV dragon Deborah Meaden and Energy Saving Trust to encourage businessowners to consider new ways of looking at energy efficiency to help manage bills in the run up to winter.

Ways to be more efficient

In a new video, the eco-conscious entrepreneur visited a workplace to show how staff and business owners could be more energy efficient and tackle needless energy waste.

She said: “British businesses have really been through the ringer recently and the fact that many smaller ones are now facing closures as a result of rising energy bills is another colossal blow.

“With more than 90 per cent of businessowners frustrated with energy waste at work, I’m pleased to be able to help them navigate this difficult time alongside Smart Energy GB and Energy Saving Trust.

“Bringing your staff onboard at the beginning to help develop an energy saving plan and even telling your customers or clients about it, are some of the ways you could start making a difference, as well as obvious ways like getting a smart meter installed in your work premises.

“Well over a third of consumers say they are more likely to visit a business that cares about sustainability and smart meters can help with this too as they are an essential part of Britain’s commitment to reaching net zero, helping to reduce reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and gas.”

Energy use at home

In a separate survey of 1,000 workers, 74 per cent admitted they spend more attention on their energy use at home rather than in their workplace.

While 42 per cent went as far to say they don’t care about their employers’ energy bills.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) turn the dishwasher on at work when it’s only half-full, and 21 per cent leave their computer/monitor on overnight.

Half of those surveyed via OnePoll have opened windows in the workplace while the heating is on.

One third (33 per cent) make no active attempt to save money for their employer by being more energy efficient in the workplace.

And 37 per correctly think the owners of their company get frustrated by energy wasted by their employers.

Iagan MacNeil, Head of Policy at Smart Energy GB, said: “Small businesses are the beating heart of the British economy but it is clear concerns about energy use are affecting how many of them will continue to operate this winter.

“The research shows energy waste is a hot topic for employers and staff, so it is hugely important that we have teamed up with Deborah Meaden and experts at Energy Saving Trust to offer new ways to tackle it.

"Whether it’s turning off unused equipment or ensuring your bills are accurate, it all adds up. But the solution needs to be a collaborative approach with everyone playing a part.

“Many businesses are eligible to get a smart meter installed on their premises and this can help by giving you more control over your energy spend – a vital tool for those worried about rising prices.

“To find out if your business is eligible for a smart meter, contact your energy supplier.”