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SSE eyes job cuts amidst smart meter costs, price cap

Image: SSE.

Image: SSE.

SSE is to consult on more than 400 redundancies within its retail arm, citing increasing competition and spiralling costs.

Yesterday the union Unite made a statement claiming that 444 job losses were confirmed internally at SSE’s retail division, the arm which covers smart meter installation.

It said SSE had blamed the proposed job cuts on the lack of take-up by consumers of smart meters, calling on energy minister Claire Perry to better educate the public on the merit of smart meters to help increase energy suppliers’ conversion rate.

The government’s smart meter deployment programme, which states that suppliers must offer every UK home a smart meter by the end of 2020,

“Demand for smart meters to be fitted in households has not reached the levels expected by the company – hence the job losses announced by the SSE retail sector.

“This situation is as a result of yet another failed government policy. The smart metering programme should not have been left to the energy companies, as the 2020 deadline looms for every home in Britain to be offered a smart meter,” Unite’s national officer for energy and utilities Peter McIntosh, said.

But in a statement issued to Current±, SSE contested Unite’s version of events, claiming that the internal announcement surrounded voluntary enhanced redundancy opportunities across both its customer service teams and metering.

Tony Keeling, chief operating officer and co-head of retail at SSE Energy Services, said the company was facing myriad challenges, including increasing competition, Ofgem’s price cap and higher operating costs, including those falling under smart meter installation.

“To run a sustainable business, we need to become more efficient and ensure we have the right number of employees in the right locations to best serve our customers. We are committed to engaging and consulting openly and transparently with colleagues, our trade union partners and appropriate employee representatives and have today announced Voluntary Enhanced Redundancy opportunities for some of our customer service and metering teams,” Keeling said.

SSE’s supply arm already faces something of an uncertain future. It was due to be spun-off and combined with innogy’s npower to create the country’s second-largest energy retailer, however the transaction fell through in the wake of the introduction of a price cap and the two companies’ failure to agree revised terms.

SSE is currently exploring alternative options, with either a standalone demerger and re-listing of the supply arm, a sale or some form of alternative transaction on the cards. SSE had planned to update the market by the end of March, but no update has materialised as yet.

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