A LONDON council has raised eyebrows after taxpayers have handed over nearly £40m to its subsidiary energy company in the past five years, yet the provider still only serves 477 customers – and all but one are residential dwellings.
B&D Energy is wholly owned by Barking and Dagenham Council.
Since it was founded in 2016, the firm has benefitted from multiple government grants and loans.
This includes £27.2m approved by the Cabinet and £7.5m from BEIS for The Barking Town Centre Scheme – which aims to warm up 10,000 homes in the area by 2030.
The local borough consists of approximately 212,000 people.
However, few seem willing to switch from their energy company to a locally owned alternative even as much larger challengers fight for survival.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) said the firm only managed to grow its customer base by 95 people between 2019-2021.
The meagre client base was first seen in an FOI request sent by the TPA, as part of research on council-owned energy providers.
It revealed 13 council-run energy firms, including now defunct Robin Hood Energy have collectively lost nearly £75m in the past four years.
B&D did eke out a profit in 2018/19 but filed its most recent accounts later than expected, which it blamed on “the availability of auditors, partly due to the pandemic.”
A council spokesperson said, “We anticipate that the customer base of B&D Energy will grow substantially over the coming years to serve up 10,000 local properties as a locally owned and run energy supplier, operating for the benefit of residents of Barking and Dagenham.”
The council also said B&D Energy had been trusted with taxpayer funds to oversee the multi-million pound town centre project due to the independence of its accounts.