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Firms count the cost of soaring energy bills

Energy firm SSE is set to increase gas and electricity prices by 9% on average from mid-October – bad news for its small business customers but just the latest in a series of cost rises hitting UK firms.

Just last week we reported that many business owners are exploring alternatives to traditional college courses in order to sidestep steep training costs – the expense of ensuring employees adhere to regulatory requirements being the biggest headache. Last year we found that red tape cost smaller employers a combined £16.8 million annually.

Other firms are being put off from providing any staff training at all – with potentially serious consequences for enterprise and the economy as a whole.

In business it is well known that maintaining a healthy cash flow is key to success. Keeping costs down is vital to maintaining a strong balance sheet, competing effectively and even just staying in business.

That is why we are making tackling business costs a main focus of our lobbying activities to coincide with the political party conferences, which are being held in the autumn – just when the days shorten, the nights become longer and energy bills really start to mount up.

To strengthen our arm, the Forum's next Referendum survey, which is being published later this month, looks at business costs. We are asking members their views on which bills have increased, which have gone down and the areas of business costs which are hitting their profits hardest.

It will be interesting to compare the results with last year's survey, where 94% of small business owners surveyed saw energy bills increase during the previous 12 months, followed closely by rises in transport costs (92%) and increases in the price of raw materials (82%).

Along with improving cash flow, reducing business costs is a central pillar of our Get Britain Trading campaign. We are also helping our members to save money on their key business services – but with our survey in mind what business costs are holding YOUR business back?

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