Connection delays causing SMEs to lose thousands of pounds, says NFB

Three-quarters of SMEs have been financially hit by utility firms’ delays in connecting new developments to gas, water and electricity, a National Federation of Builders (NFB) survey has found.

The survey found that 73% of SMEs had suffered losses due to connection delays. The NFB said its members were losing thousands of pounds at a time when they could ill-afford unnecessary extra costs.

One contractor told the NFB it had had to wait seven months after initially paying a utility company to get connected.

But the NFB added that the headline figure (73%) for firms damaged by utilities delays last year was down on 2010, when 88% of respondents had been financially impacted.

The survey also found three-quarters of SMEs were unaware they could claim for compensation when utility connection services were not met within a given timeframe.

The penalty payment regime was introduced for electricity companies on 1 October 2010.

Julia Evans, NFB chief executive, said: “It is disappointing to see that utility providers are still not getting the message. In this tough climate […] unnecessary delays cost our members dear.

“The last thing contractors need is to pay thousands of pounds up front for a connection to fund network development, which is then delayed by the poor performance of a utility company raking in huge profits.”