Energylinx for Business News

November 15, 2017

GDPR Checklist

On May 25th 2018, new European data laws are set to come into effect. Despite this looming deadline, only 1 in 4 businesses has started planning to ensure compliance.

The Information Commissioner's Office has released a 12 step checklist to help businesses get ready for The General Data Protection Regulation before the changes come into action in 6 months' time:

1. Awareness

You should make sure that decision-makers and key people in your business are aware that the law is changing to the GDPR. They need to appreciate the impact it is likely to have.

2. Information you hold

You should document personal data that your business holds, where it came from and who you share it with. You may need to organise an information audit.

3. Communicating Privacy Information

You should review your current privacy notices and put a plan in place for making any necessary changes in time for GDPR implementation.

4. Individual Rights

You should check your procedures to ensure they cover all the rights individuals have, including how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format.

5. Subject access requests

You should update your procedures and plan how you will handle requests within the new timescales and provide any additional information.

6. Lawful basis for processing personal data

You should identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR, document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.

7. Consent

You should review how you seek, record and manage consent and whether you need to make any changes. Refresh existing consents now if they do not meet the GDPR standard.

8. Children

You should start thinking now about whether you need to put systems in place to verify an individual's age and to obtain parental or guardian consent for any data processing activity.

9. Data Breaches

You should make sure you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.

10. Data Protection by Design and Data Protection Impact Assessments

You should familiarise yourself now with the ICO's Code of Practice on Privacy Impact Assessments as well as the latest guidance from the Article 29 Working Party and work out how and when to implement them in your organisation.

11. Data Protection Officers

You should designate someone to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your organisation's structure and governance arrangements. You should also consider whether you are required to designate a formal Data Protection Officer.

12. International

If your organisation operates in more than one EU member states (i.e you carry out cross-border processing), you should determine your lead data protection supervisory authority. Article 29 Working guidelines will help you do this.

It is important to remember that the GDPR is only a part of the overall data protection framework. The Government has confirmed its plans to introduce a Data Protection Bill into Parliament. This should become law in 2018 replacing the current Act.

Posted on November 15, 2017 at 03:50 PM

November 9, 2017

We made the list!

Exciting news from Energylinx for Business... we've been ranked third in Insider's 2017 Sprint100 list. A list that celebrates Scotland's fastest-growing small companies.

Over the last 3 years, Energylinx for Business has seen its turnover grow by almost 272%.

The Sprint100 companies have a turnover of between £10,000 and £8m in their current year. Insider ranks them by total percentage turnover growth over three years and they cannot be loss-making in their latest year.

In total in the Sprint100 index, there were 57 businesses that were new to the index this year with the remaining 43 having featured in 2016. Of those 43, 15 rose up the index and 28 fell.

The Top Ten and their 3 Year Turnover Growth

  1. W K Soudan + 446.60
  2. Dunedin Property Asset Management + 272.30
  3. Energylinx for Business + 271.96
  4. Gynogapod + 159.41
  5. 1st Safety Solutions + 134.06
  6. Midmar Capital + 113.28
  7. Lomond TPS + 89.66
  8. LTS International + 76.45
  9. Warranty Services + 73.42
  10. Culloden + 72.80

Posted on November 9, 2017 at 11:49 AM

November 7, 2017

Two-thirds of SMEs don't have a plan for Brexit

CitySprint's fifth annual survey of over 1,000 decision makers and business owners at UK SMEs found a drop in confidence amongst UK SMEs. Worryingly, two-thirds (64%) have not made specific plans to prepare their business for Brexit.

The survey found that three quarters (77%) are as confident or more confident about the future of their business compared to 12 months ago. However, this figure is a substantial drop from the 85% figure recorded in the 2015 survey, indicating some signs of concern about the future.

Not surprising then, that a significant 43% said they lack confidence in the government's capability to safeguard their business from the impact of Brexit.

Despite concern about the future, UK SMEs have yet to feel any considerable impact on the bottom line from Brexit, with 87% reporting they are in the same or better shape financially compared to 12 months ago.

However, when asked what impact leaving the EU will have on their business, around one in five (19%) expect profit margins to decrease and one in six (17%) expect revenue to drop.

Patrick Gallagher, group CEO at CitySprint Group, comments,

'Whatever difficulties the future holds, it's 'business as unusual' for the UK's SMEs. They have more than weathered the economic ups and downs of recent years, and by working with each other, they will no doubt continue to adapt to the times. Smaller enterprises are both highly agile and deft at reinventing themselves and the way they work to suit the times. It's their biggest advantage.'

Despite the majority of small and medium-sized business failing to put secure plans in place to prepare their business for Brexit, they have taken some steps to future-proof their company since Article 50 was triggered in March 2017 with a third (32%) have upped business development activity, while more than a quarter have decreased their fixed and/or variable costs (27%) and a similar number have increased investment in capital goods or technology (25%). One in five (20%) say they have upped headcount in response.

The survey found that 30% of SMEs believe lower customer demand is the biggest obstacle for SMEs in the next 12 months. Brexit (28%) and inflation (21%) come in as second and third respectively. Significant numbers also reported growing competition (20%) and increased operating costs (20%).

What is the biggest worry for your business over the next 12 months? Energylinx for Business provides a service that means energy costs don't have to be one. We compare over 30 energy suppliers to find the right energy price plan for your business. You can do it online or by calling 01259 225400.

Posted on November 7, 2017 at 04:47 PM

October 17, 2017

Price Cap on energy bills? Not for 5 million UK SMEs

A price cap on energy bills has been proposed by the Prime Minister, Theresa May. This is a welcome relief for many domestic customers stuck on expensive standard variable rate (SVR) tariffs, but little thought has been given to the five million small to medium businesses who aren't protected in the same way.

UK SMEs are the backbone of the British economy and last year's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) highlighted the profit margin for selling electricity to small businesses is higher than to domestic customers (8% vs 3%) and that the SME gas sales generated a 10% profit.

In the last 3 months, wholesale electricity prices (one of the main drivers of tariff pricing for business contracts) have risen by 15%. The report by the CMA last year also highlighted that artificially high prices have allowed the "Big Six" energy suppliers to overcharge SMEs by £500m a year.

Just like domestic customers, small businesses are rolled onto products similar to SVR tariffs at the end of their fixed price deals and shockingly, in some cases, these tariffs can be between 50 - 100% higher than acquisition prices.

Currently, the business energy market isn't as regulated as the domestic and until the recommendations from the CMA report have been fully put in place, it will remain this way. However, recent changes to the industry mean that all business energy suppliers MUST make their current out of contract rates available on their websites.

The only way to stop your business being rolled over onto an unnecessarily expensive contract is by comparing what energy price plans are available for your business when you enter the last 120 days of your current contract. Once you find a supplier and price plan that you are happy with then you need to let your current supplier know in writing that you will be moving at the end of your current contract.

Energylinx for Business offers an impartial comparison and switching service. We compare over 30 energy suppliers so you can be sure you will find the right one for your business. You can arrange a transfer online or by calling 01259 225400.

Posted on October 17, 2017 at 03:40 PM

September 29, 2017

80% of UK small businesses are overpaying for their energy

LifetimeStock-257970-L (2).jpgDue to time restraints, almost 60% of UK SMEs struggle to shop around for the best energy deal. This is according to new data from the energy supplier, Utilita.

Whilst the domestic energy market is seeing a significant number of customers switching suppliers for a better energy deal, the commercial market isn't. Despite the fact, the CMA's 2016 report into the energy market found that as much as 80% of the UK's small businesses are overpaying for their energy.

The findings, in an independent study commissioned by Utilita on the trials facing UK high street, reveals fewer than half of micro-businesses (46%) believe they are getting a fair deal with high tariff rates and excessive payment arrangements.

The survey reveals that only 41% of businesses review their energy at least once a year and a further 20% only review their deal every two to five years - with one in ten admitting they have never shopped around for a better deal!

The Competition and Markets Authority has enforced rules that energy suppliers have to stop locking businesses into expensive, automatic rollover contracts and need to make it simpler for them to compare the cheapest energy prices. The CMA believes that these changes could help micro-businesses save up to £180 million a year.

Do you have a small business? Energylinx for Business offers a free energy comparison service. If you find a cheaper deal for your energy supplier you can arrange a switch through our online platform or by calling one of our advisors on 01259 225400.

Posted on September 29, 2017 at 01:44 PM

September 6, 2017

Introducing British Gas Lite

Energylinx for Business is delighted to announce the launch of a new product from British Gas directed at micro-business customers, British Gas Lite.

The British Gas Lite product is ideal for customers that:

  • Want to keep their costs low
  • Would like instant help when they need it
  • Desire an account managed entirely online
  • Want accurate bills rather than estimated bills

British Gas developed Lite with owners of small businesses in mind and the view that it's important to keep energy spend to a minimum and bills low.

Lite can only be used by businesses with a smart meter. If you don't have a smart meter then British Gas Lite will fit one free of charge.

The smart meter will send British Gas Lite an accurate meter reading every month. This means customers get exact bills every time and will only have to give British Gas Lite a meter reading once when they open the account. British Gas Lite is only available to micro-businesses that opt to pay by direct debit.

To open a Lite account, Energylinx for Business will organise your transfer and confirm to British Gas Lite that you're working from a single site with a single meter.

British Gas Lite is now available on all of our online platforms. Use our free and impartial comparison service to find out how British Gas Lite ranks for your business. You can also get a quote for your business energy by calling one of our advisors on 01259 225400.

To find out more about British Gas Lite visit their website.

Posted on September 6, 2017 at 12:49 PM

August 17, 2017

SMEs need more help to understand the new water market

Small business in England are struggling to understand the new non-household retail water market in England and need more help, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

CCWater received six times more inquiries from businesses in the first three months since the market opened in England in April, compared to the same period in 2016. More than 90% of contacts came from small and medium sized businesses.

In line with expectations, complaints made by businesses to CCWater also increased. Many of these have been put down to "teething problems", which is expected to be "swiftly resolved" as the market develops.

More than half (54%) of the 370 complaints received from businesses were related to billing and charges, consistent with previous years. A majority of complaints (80.5%) were about retailers, followed by wholesalers (17.8%) and TPIs.

CCWater believes competition has generated some new types of complaints, with a small number of firms struggling to find information about retailers and their tariffs.

There were also some delays in resolving operational issues, including low water pressure and leaks, caused by poor communication between retailers and wholesalers.

CCWater said they had to intervene to help some household customers who were wrongly classified as being eligible for the non-household market.

Tony Smith, CCWater's Chief Executive said:

"In terms of complaints made to CCWater, there is little to suggest that customers have so far encountered any major problems with switching or the services they receive from retailers.

"It's also clear from the customer contact we've received that many smaller businesses need more help getting to grips with the new market. Retailers and water companies need to work harder to ensure customers are well informed so they can exercise their choice with confidence."

More than 36,000 businesses switched their retail water supplier in the first three months since the market opening.

Ofwat Chief Executive Cathryn Ross said:

"It is early days but we are seeing some encouraging signs with new retailers, new deals and crucially, customers saving money and water. There have been more than 36,000 switches and around 60% of those have come from low water users - more likely to be SMEs. That is significant because we want to make sure this market works for all customers, not just the very large companies with specialist procurement divisions.

"More needs to be done, however; comparing offers is still not as easy as it needs to be and we have told retailers they must remedy this."

When the water market was opened up to businesses in England, Energylinx for Business partnered with WaterPlus to provide our customers with more money saving opportunities.

We can also find the most competitive rates for your business energy online or by calling 01259 225400.

Posted on August 17, 2017 at 01:13 PM

August 10, 2017

CMA Price Transparency Update

Since Energylinx for Business wrote their last article on CMA price transparency, the legislation and the requirement for energy suppliers to show energy prices on their websites for micro-business customers has gone live. The deadline of June 26th has come and gone, so the big question is how many suppliers have complied with The Energy Market Investigation (micro-businesses) Order 2016?

The good news is that most suppliers have made an effort to display their prices on their websites.

The bad news is that around 70% of suppliers that Energylinx for Business has reviewed, aren't yet displaying the 'Required Pricing Information' in the prescribed format. So, there's still quite a bit of work to be done!

The big thing that most suppliers are failing to do is to properly report the "the total estimated cost for the duration of each contract, calculated from the Primary Information and (b) as applicable, the cost of each of the following components (i) Standing Charges, (ii) Unit Rate(s), and (iii) all other associated charges".

Maybe it's just a mistake and energy suppliers will, eventually, comply with the Order. But, to achieve true price transparency, Energylinx for Business believe there are still a few things that the industry need to address:

  1. Average Pricing (p/kWh)

If a consumer enters a cost estimate for their energy 'Primary Information' then unless all suppliers are using the same average pricing to derive consumption, the consumption derived will be different on different supplier sites. This could lead to the customer thinking that "Supplier A" is offering a cheaper product than "Supplier B" simply because the derived annual consumption is different.

  1. TPI Product Options

A lot of suppliers work with Third Party Intermediaries (TPI) and as such may display prices on their websites that relate to these parties. If the TPI themselves do not display prices on their own websites (use a call centre approach) then how does the customer know whether or not they can get the product that the supplier has said is available from that TPI? Surely TPIs should be displaying product prices (the same product prices) in the same manner as energy suppliers in order to achieve true price transparency?

Price transparency is, undoubtedly, a good thing for the industry and will help more micro-business owners shop around to get the best deal possible. We hope that at the end of this year, we will be able to update this article again and hopefully report back that all energy suppliers are fully compliant and that more and smaller business owners are switching to gain better deals.

If you want an online solution of your own business (Broker or Supplier) then Energylinx for Business would be delighted to hear from you.

Posted on August 10, 2017 at 03:28 PM

July 28, 2017

A week in the life of a work experience student

Sally.jpgLast Monday we welcomed a work experience student from Hutcheson Grammar School. Sally joined us for an invaluable week-long placement, that seen her shadow different departments and helping with a variety of tasks from call auditing to blogging.

As Sally's week was about to end, we decided to ask her a few questions to see how she had found it.

What have you got up to this week?

On Monday and Tuesday I worked in customer services for Energylinx for Business. I helped upload applications in to the system, as well as updating business owners on the status of their request to switch energy providers.

Wednesday and Thursday I joined the admin team on the domestic side of the business.

On the final day of work experience I was in the call centre. I was given a crash-course in compliance and listened to a few live calls.

What have you learned?

Having never worked in an office before I didn't realise how many different jobs go into making a functional company. I learned that even though everyone does different jobs it is often necessary to ask for help from someone in another department to solve a problem.

Out with the company I never realised that different businesses often work together to provide a worthwhile service to the customers. If one of these companies is not working efficiently then all the others can be thrown off track - patience is one of the most important things when trying to deliver a positive customer experience.

What does it mean for the future?

I feel this experience will help me as I hope to work in biomedical research, perhaps in a hospital lab, and I now have a deeper understanding of how organisations work and how different departments must work together to keep things running smoothly.

Sally has a bright future and we loved having her here last week. Everyone at Energylinx and Energylinx for Business would like to wish Sally luck in 6th year at high school. If you change your mind on biomedical research I'm sure we could find something for you here!

Posted on July 28, 2017 at 09:07 AM

July 18, 2017

Price Competitiveness is the most important issue when picking a new energy supplier say UK SMEs

New research carried out by Gazprom Energy has discovered that businesses are starting to look beyond the price tag when searching for a new energy supplier, but price competitiveness and transparency remain the most important issues when choosing a new energy company to supply them.

Surveying 200 businesses throughout the UK, Gazprom Energy found that SMEs are becoming more concerned with the whole package that an energy supplier offers. 64% believe it's important that the supplier shows a good understanding of the business and its need to win the deal - highlighting the growing importance of the level of customer service an energy supplier can provide.

A massive 95% of those surveyed stated that price competitiveness was influential when choosing a new supplier and 81% claimed that advice from a third party could also strongly influence their decision.

Energy suppliers also need to be more innovative in terms of how they deliver their service and allow customers to take more control. Access to better technology to understand and control usage has gained increased interest from UK businesses with 70% saying they would use an online portal to engage with their energy provider to manage their contracts more independently and 43% would like a live chat service for a straight-forward way to contact their supplier.

Businesses have become more inclined to shop around to get the best deal for their energy, instead of taking the obvious or easy option with 61% of those surveyed happy to use separate suppliers for each fuel if it meant securing a better deal. Only 20% insisted on the same supplier for everything.

Energylinx for Business can provide companies with a straight-forward, online energy comparison and switching service. In less than 2 minutes you can run a quote that will give you the price plans of over 30 energy suppliers. If you would like to discuss the price plans or different suppliers, we have a team of energy advisors that can help you talk you through the comparison process - just call 01259 225400.

Posted on July 18, 2017 at 08:51 AM