ScottishPower takes a stand in COVID-19 loan talks


ONE of the major energy companies has voiced their view amidst an ongoing conversation between utility companies and the government.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, told the Financial Times that bad debts arising from customers struggling to pay their bills during the pandemic could later be recovered via the Ofgem price cap mechanism that spreads the costs of missed payments among customers.

Energy UK has been leading conversation with the government on behalf of utility companies about setting up a loan scheme to help their business and household customers struggling amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The talks follow industry-wide concerns about the effect of the epidemic on their operations as growing pressure mounts on their customers to keep up with their bills.

Last week ICON reported that the government had referred the energy industry to their existing package of targeted measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes £330 billion for companies to access loans, a business rates holiday, and help for small firms without insurance.

According to Financial Times, Mr Anderson had argued that any energy company hit by a cash crunch because of payment holidays could access this existing support scheme.

Mr Anderson told the Financial Times: “We need to wait and see what is happening, wait and see what comes through the system, wait and see how customers react.

“There’s been a few panic calls for action and immediate response . . . and I think we need to take our time and reflect.

“We are in a better place than the vast majority of other industries in this country . . . of any sector in this country asking for additional help, we should be at the back of the queue.”

The talks between the energy industry and the government are ongoing.

An Energy UK spokesperson told ICON: “On behalf of the industry, we will continue to work with the Government on options for how best to support the households and businesses who may be struggling to pay for essential services like their energy bills right now.”