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A major survey of businesses across England and Wales has found that more than a third – 36% – of businesses believe that the most important thing the government could do for business is provide grants towards the cost of installing energy efficiency measures.
The BCC and British Gas survey, of over 2,100 businesses of all sizes and sectors, also shows that many of the businesses who rent or lease their premises feel that they have no influence over energy efficiency improvements on their site.
The findings suggest that in addition to financial aid, there is more to do from suppliers and government to promote the wider use of smart meters to help companies reduce their energy costs, while at the same time businesses should review their existing contracts and switch if necessary, in order to feel the benefit of a fall in wholesale prices.
Key results in the survey: 

  • The largest share – 36% – of the businesses surveyed feel that the most important thing the government could do for business is provide grants towards the cost of installing energy efficiency measures
  • Only 8% feel that more information would help them in this aim, while just 4% say that financing options such as lease agreements and low-cost loans would help
  • Only 13% of businesses have seen a decrease in their energy costs over the last three years, compared to 35% that have seen prices rise, and 37% with little or no change
  • When asked what is preventing businesses from investing in energy efficiency measures, 23% of the largest firms said that other investments were taking priority, compared with 13% overall, and 15% of businesses state that savings would not be worth the cost of investment
  • Just over a quarter – 27% – of businesses who rent their premises state that they have no influence on energy efficiency improvements
  • Only 6% of businesses say that the wider use of smart meters is the most important thing that government and suppliers could do to help firms

Commenting on the findings, Mike Spicer, Director of Research and Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: 
“These results demonstrate that getting the economics of investment right for energy efficiency is crucial to promoting take-up. At a time when businesses face growing upfront cost pressures from other sources, grants and tax breaks have an important role to play in offsetting the cost of new energy efficiency measures. On its own, more information won’t do the job.
“Commercial landlords also need to do more, to support leaseholders and renters who are looking to save money and make their energy use work for them.”
Gab Barbaro, Managing Director of UK Business at British Gas said:
“It’s clear from this research that businesses in rented and leased premises need more help from their commercial landlords, and new regulations to tackle the least energy-efficient premises can’t come soon enough.
“I’d urge all businesses to seek help from their supplier or landlord, and start with the basics. For example, by applying for a smart meter, businesses could much more accurately work out what’s driving their energy use and make considered decisions about how to reduce it.”
Notes: The British Chambers of Commerce surveyed over 2,100 business leaders from across England and Wales via an online survey between 22nd February 2016 and 14th March 2016. The vast majority of survey respondents (91%) were SMEs with 1-199 employees. Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents classified themselves as service sector firms, while 24% classified themselves as manufacturers.

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