Priti Patel MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, has called for sweeping changes in the small business energy market to stop small shops being abused by their energy suppliers.

She was speaking at the launch of a report by the group highlighting the problems in the small business energy market.

The report recommends a number of changes which would make the energy market fairer for local shops including a 12-month limit on backbilling for gas and electricity, an end to automatic rollover contracts for gas and electricity, and a code of conduct for third party intermediaries.

Patel said: “Local shop owners are some of the hardest working people in the country and we must intervene to prevent them being overcharged or forced into unfair contractual terms. I know this is a priority issue for the Prime Minister and we hope our report will help to press forward the reforms that are desperately needed. At a time when energy bills are increasing small businesses must not be forgotten when looking at ways to keep costs down and save money.

“Small shops make a tremendous contribution to the UK economy and bringing greater openness and fairness to the way in which small shops are charged for and provided with their energy is essential.”

The report comes as the result of an inquiry session which featured senior figures from a range of energy companies as well as the energy regulator Ofgem.