More than half of small leisure businesses (52%) are delaying paying energy bills as long as possible, a new survey has found.
A Datamonitor survey also revealed that 51% are struggling to run successful businesses in the current climate.
In response to this survey, British Gas has launched a new support package — SAVE (Small business Advice and Value Expertise) to help provide a more flexible approach to managing costs and debt.
British Gas estimates that around 40,000 small businesses will require assistance in paying their energy bills during the recession.
Its new initiative will provide a dedicated expert credit solutions team to advice on issues, advice on how to cut energy consumption, an energy saver's pack including energy saving lightbulbs and posters for staff awareness and an online energy saver's report to provide guidance on energy consumption reduction.
Businesses will be able to get a free online audit of their energy consumption by logging on to the British Gas website.
Kanat Emiroglu, director of SME markets at British Gas Business, said: "We work with a lot of small businesses throughout the country, so we're pleased now to be able to provide helpful advice and support at a time when they really need it."
Pub licensee Darren Potter, of the Plough in South Elmsall, has already trialled the system. "When I first started speaking to British Gas Business about my bill, I already owed between five and six thousand pounds and had no way to pay it.
"It was quite upsetting, the thought of losing my business and my home. But I started speaking to them about my inability to pay and British Gas has been really helpful, providing a really personal service to help me sort things out.
"They discussed with me payment plan options for the immediate problem as well as suggested ways to reduce my energy bills for the long term."