Wednesday 8 May 2019 12:12 pm

Energy giant SSE set to axe 444 jobs in retail sector covering smart meter installation

Energy giant SSE has confirmed it will cut 444 jobs for people working in its retail sector, including those who fit smart meters to homes in the UK.

SSE today blamed the cuts on "competition increasing, the introduction of the energy price cap and higher operating costs".

Read more: SSE talks to Talktalk over £1bn retail unit after scrapping Npower deal

Chief operating officer at its energy services division, Tony Keeling, said: "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."

Unite, Britain's largest trade union, said the cuts were due to a "lack of take-up by consumers of smart meters which could assist in reducing energy emissions".

Unite national officer for energy and utilities Peter McIntosh said: “Today’s announcement by SSE Retail is disappointing, but not unexpected. Unite will oppose any attempts by the company to introduce compulsory redundancies.

“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.

"It is clear that the government message on smart metering is not cutting through to the public."

It comes weeks after SSE was slapped with a £700,000 fine for lagging behind on its smart meter rollout.

It took the company until February this year to install gas meters for all customers who should have had them by the end of 2018, Ofgem said. SSE hit its installation targets for electricity smart meters, the regulator revealed.

It agreed to pay the fine into a fund run by the Energy Savings Trust, which helps vulnerable utilities customers and encourages innovation.

Read more: SSE fined £700,000 for missing smart meter target

The government is also likely to miss its commitment to roll out smart meters to all homes and small businesses by 2020. Suppliers have to set annual targets which are monitored by Ofgem.

Unite has 4,000 members working at SSE.