Sacha Lord to help hospitality battle energy company commission scandal

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Secret commissions: Lord says the scandal could be bigger than PPI
Secret commissions: Lord says the scandal could be bigger than PPI

Related tags Finance Legislation Sacha Lord Pubco + head office

The night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord is finalising a plan to help hospitality businesses recover hidden commissions paid to brokers by energy companies.

On Twitter, he said: “A couple of months ago, I engaged JMW Solicitors, the same law firm I used to force the Government to drop the 10pm curfew and ‘substantial meal’ rule.

“Many hours have already gone into this, and we are now making great progress in finalising a plan to help hospitality businesses to recover hidden commissions paid to brokers by energy companies.

“This is not just restricted to Greater Manchester; we’ve opened this up to the whole sector across the UK.

“Even businesses that have sadly had to close.”

He said another update would come in the next two weeks with details on how to make a claim.

This could help local pubs, bars, restaurants, live music venues and theatres, said Lord. “We’re about to claw back money they paid under duress.”

He added that this could be a national scandal potentially as big as the PPI scandal, where millions of Brits were mis-sold PPI policies after taking out loans and credit cards from the early 1990s to 2010.

“All happened on Ofgem’s watch,” he said.

Struggling sector

This comes after the night-time adviser, in January, demanded a fast-track investigation into why energy support for hospitality businesses had been withheld.

At the time, operators who had spoken to Lord stated they hadn’t received any of the Government-pledged support they were entitled to since it was introduced in September last year, 

Soaring energy costs have crippled the hospitality sector. The Government’s energy relief for businesses ended on 31 March, meaning the average energy bill rocketed by around £18,400.

Litigation law firm Harcus Parker has previously claimed​ millions of businesses could be entitled to compensation from energy giants over secret commissions paid to third-party brokers allegedly inflated customer bills by billions of pounds.

It accused gas and electricity suppliers of offering payments to incentivise brokers to sign up customers. This ignored whether energy was or was not cheaper to the end user, who was unaware of how much money was being distributed to the broken.

Unbearable costs

The Ship Centurion licensee Roland Birks was among hundreds of claimants who had signed up for action. Birks, who has owned the pub in Whitstable, Kent since the age of 18, said he took out his current electricity contract after being “hounded” by calls from brokers many times a day. “You’re getting bombarded and it’s very confusing,” he added.  

He said he was paying between £900 and £1,200 a month under his previous deal, which expired in November.  

When Birks signed his next contract, he was shocked to see the unit price had jumped to 63p per kWh from the 15p per kWh he had previously paid.  

The licensee said the broker did not mention how much commission it would receive, only that it would be paid by the energy supplier, but Birks fears he will ultimately bear the cost.  

He has yet to receive a bill under the new contract, but while government subsidies are helping for now, he fears the cost will at least double.  

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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