UKPN offers post-Covid boost to SMEs and small businesses

The UK’s biggest electricity distributor has led the way in reaching out to support thousands of SMEs in the communities it serves to help combat the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As part of its work with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Mayor of London’s EV Taskforce to support the wider move towards Net Zero, UK Power Networks engaged 1,200 SMEs and 88 representative bodies about electric vehicles.

Many wanted to make the switch to EVs but lacked the time and expertise to prepare – making them the most likely group to get left behind in the transition to low carbon.

In the run-up to the COP26 global climate conference, UKPN is collaborating in the Zero Carbon Business Partnership with the FSB, to develop a central online advice service packed with EV case studies, helping small businesses wishing to decarbonise.

Ian Cameron, head of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a host of significant new challenges for SMEs, and we were determined to ensure none of them were left behind as we build back better and support our communities to decarbonise.

“We are helping to enable the switch to EVs, and we recognised very quickly that the impact of any power cut on SMEs had increased hugely during any lockdowns and, even more so, in the periods they were able to start trading.

“Through our Extra Care Register and wider engagement we have worked closely with SMEs through online surveys and discussions to better understand what difficulties they face in the event of a power cut and how we can best tailor our support to meet their needs and deliver for them. It was action, not just talk.”

David Savage, managing director of Savage & Sons Electrical Ltd in Bedfordshire, said: “I’ve been thinking about switching to electric transport for years. I firmly believe it’s an important step and it’s only going to become more necessary in the future.

“For small companies to be interested in EVs, it is vital they understand the potential financial benefits and get extra support, especially during the challenges we are facing right now. It’s great to hear about projects like this aimed at helping companies like ours.”

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Small businesses are committed to sustainability, and a gradual, affordable move to electric vehicles will be an important step along this journey.

“It is very welcome that UK Power Networks gained a detailed understanding of their needs and the support which will be necessary both to help as many as possible transition to electric vehicles in the future where the available technology allows, and to make sure the infrastructure they will need alongside that will be provided.”

Image: UKPN Press Office

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