The Forum of Private Business is warning small firms to get ready for further energy price rises, saying an era of cheap utilities is at an end.
And the FPB added the Government had missed an opportunity to better prepare the country for the energy crisis.
“In the 1990s, when the Government should have tackled the future energy supply problems in the UK, they were too busy finding ways to increase taxation by stealth,” said Colin Beake, the managing director of Utility Options, which seeks out utilities deals on behalf of FPB members.
“The problem we have in the UK is that we have been enjoying reasonable energy prices from North Sea gas and oil, with normal extraction and transport costs dictating the price. However, in Europe the monopoly energy providers have been charging high prices for years.
“Therefore as our dependence on energy from Europe increases, the price we pay for our gas and electricity will increase.”
Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has released the findings of a survey suggesting that energy prices will rise by as much as 40 per cent. It identified two reasons for the projected surge in energy costs.
The UK is now dependent on foreign energy imports from Europe, which means that gas prices cannot fall lower than those on the continent. And in addition, the coupling of oil and gas prices means that when the oil price rises, the price of gas follows suit.
The disappearance of independent gas and electricity watchdog Energywatch is also likely to bring more misery for small businesses, the FPB said.
Energywatch is being amalgamated into a new national consumer council called Consumer Focus, which will deal with energy and post.
Energywatch currently deals with 30,000 calls from small businesses per year and has built a reputation for fighting the corner of smaller firms.