Microbusiness back-billing

Publication date
31st March 2016
Information types
Policy areas

A back-bill is a request for payment issued to a customer for previously unbilled consumption. This letter summarises data provided by suppliers following a request for information relating to their back-billing of microbusiness customers in Q4 2014.

We welcome the positive steps taken in reducing the detriment to microbusiness consumers. The seven largest microbusiness suppliers and a number of other firms now have voluntary commitments in place to limit the duration of back-bills to one year. Analysis of the samples provided shows that suppliers reduced the value of the original back-bill they were going to require from customers by 7% in total, and compared with 2013, there was a 44 day reduction in the average duration of back-bills.

However, we observe that there is still significant variation in the voluntary back-billing commitments. We also note that the current voluntary arrangements run by Energy UK/ICOSS do not require the signatories to demonstrate how they comply with the commitments. Additionally, there is no requirement on signatories to have an external audit to ensure they all have sufficiently robust internal processes in place.

This letter sets out our decision to improve the transparency of suppliers’ back-billing policies, and monitor the protections they offer to consumers.