Big Business Refit campaign

British businesses are being forced to make do and mend with old, inefficient equipment, as more than half don’t have the cash to upgrade it. A new scheme aims to help change that.

British businesses are being forced to make do and mend with old, inefficient equipment, as more than half (52 per cent) don’t have the cash to upgrade it. Well over half of small and medium-sized businesses (60 per cent) wait until their equipment breaks down completely before replacing it.

The problem is costing businesses £3.3bn a year in wasted energy according to the Carbon Trust. It was revealed in a survey of 1,500 small and medium-sized businesses at the launch of the Carbon Trust’s Big Business Refit campaign.

The survey showed that around half of businesses are missing out on the opportunity to reduce bottom-line costs through energy efficiency:

  • More than half (57 per cent) have resorted to staff cuts to save cash
  • Nearly half (46 per cent) are unaware that they can cut energy costs by replacing old equipment
  • Nearly half (41 per cent) have accepted higher energy bills as a fixed cost, preferable to paying the upfront cost of replacing old equipment.

The Big Business Refit aims to help businesses to scrap their old power-guzzling equipment and replace it with new equipment that is more efficient and cheaper to run. It provides expert guidance, plus financial support in the form of £100m in interest-free funding, which can be paid back through the energy savings that new equipment delivers.

The campaign runs until 31 March 2010. It offers advice on identifying old equipment and guidance on suitable replacements at clinics in UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Belfast.

One business that has already saved by scrapping its old equipment is Yorkshire-based flexible packaging printers, Roberts Mart & Company. 

Ben Roberts, sales director, said: ‘We’ve taken advantage of two Carbon Trust loans, totalling more than £300,000, to replace printing press drying systems, a boiler and lighting. As a result, we’re saving around £130,000 a year on our energy bills, plus around 900 tonnes of CO2.’

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Institute of Directors (IoD), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the mayor of London, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have all pledged their support for the Carbon Trust’s Big Business Refit.

The Carbon Trust’s unsecured, interest-free loans can be used for replacing equipment costing between £3,000 and £400,000. The loans are designed to pay for themselves through direct energy savings, so that once the loan is repaid, savings go straight to bottom line. With a total of £100m in funding available, the Big Business Refit is expected to help up to 3,000 UK SMEs save a total of £40m from their annual energy costs.

Businesses can get expert advice, a free energy-saving assessment, or apply for interest-free funding by calling 01865 885879, or visiting