A commercial energy supplier is launching a ground-breaking fund to help businesses stay afloat during tough economic times.
BES Utilities, owned by Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley, has launched its Business Energy Solutions Fund which aims to support self-employed and small business customers who find themselves in financial difficulty and struggling to pay their utility bills.
The fund will be used to not only freeze customers’ energy bills, but write off historic debt.
Lancashire-based BES Utilities is the first gas and electricity supplier in the UK to set up such a fund to help the non-domestic/commercial market.
It said research shows more than half (55 per cent) of small and medium sized enterprises in the UK do not survive more than five years with high running costs among the reasons given for closure.
Now, through the BES Fund – which launched today – help will be available for BES gas and electricity customers who face financial hardship so they can continue to trade and get back on track.
Andy Pilley, BES Utilities managing director, said: “Times are very tough for many businesses and that is why BES, as a responsible gas and electricity supplier, is proud to set up the Business Energy Solutions Fund – the first fund of its type to help non-domestic customers in the UK.
“Through this fund we want to help ensure customers who find themselves struggling to pay their bills get advice and support in dealing with debt and cash flow problems in a responsible and sustainable way.
“We want to help them stay in business.
“That is why we have joined forces with the national debt advice charity, Business Debtline, who will carry out assessments of customers’ finances and see where the fund can help.
“Together with our many market-leading products, designed to save our customers money, we see the BES Fund as another way in which we are helping small and medium sized UK businesses in these extremely challenging economic times.”
It will be independently administered by Charis Grants and will handle applications submitted via Business Debtline.
Jane Tully, from the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs Business Debtline, said: “This new support for small business customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills is warmly welcome. Combined with free debt advice from Business Debtline, this could make all the difference to many small businesses’ ability to continue trading and get back on the track.”