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Weekly small business news round-up

A round up of news stories for the week ending 31st August 2012

After Scottish & Southern Energy, one of the UK's 'Big 6' energy suppliers, announced a rise of 9% in its domestic tariff starting this October, industry experts predicted that other suppliers will follow soon. Small business owners were rightfully worried that this will have an effect on business gas and electricity prices, as although prices for businesses are usually fixed for at least a year in advance, any supplier offering a new contract will look to factor in rising distribution costs beyond next April. We advise business owners to contact Make It Cheaper now rather than later to buy a fixed contract with current quotes for as far away as February 2013 with prices fixed for up to 3 years.

Elsewhere in the news, MPs were calling on energy regulator Ofgem to protect small businesses from unfair practices adopted by energy companies. Current regulations allow suppliers to charge firms for six years' worth of incorrect bills - even if the supplier was at fault for back billing or overcharging. As a matter of fact, a recent survey conducted in the independent retail sector pointed out that 36% of independent retail businesses reported having been overcharged and more than 25% received back bills from suppliers in the past year, according to Livingston Labour MP Graeme Morrice is backing calls to limit back bills to 12 months, in line with protections for domestic energy users.

In the meantime, current trending topic in the business world is the topic of entrepreneurs with disabilities and 'the purple pound', since individuals with special needs, 19% of the UK population, have a combined spending power of £80 billion a year. The Paralympics is a great reminder to celebrate the many brilliant entrepreneurs who have special needs as well as encouraging business owners to join initiatives such as 'Growing Your Customer Base to Include Disabled People' launched by Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People. The guide includes cost-effective and practical advice about a number of related topics ranging from making businesses more accessible to becoming a more welcoming company towards customers with disabilities.

The topic of the cash-strapped small business sector came back into the spotlight as the total amount owed to Britain's small and medium-sized enterprises has reached a record £36.5 billion in the past six months. As highlighted by The Times in the report by, more than a million UK small businesses are suffering because their customers are delaying payment - many of them big companies who simply refuse to pay on time.