SSE is planning to cut more than 400 jobs in its retail business, blaming several factors including tough competition, the introduction of the energy price cap and increased costs.

The Big Six supplier said the “voluntary enhanced redundancy opportunities” cover both its customer service and smart meter installation teams.

The price cap came into force earlier this year which limits the amount suppliers can charge customers on standard variable tariffs and prepayment meter tariffs.

Tony Keeling, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Head of Retail, at SSE Energy Services said: ​“Like a number of suppliers, we are facing challenges due to competition increasing, the introduction of the energy price cap and higher operating costs.

“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 the Union, which has more than 4,000 members working at SSE, blamed the cuts on the lack of smart meters uptake by consumers.

Peter McIntosh, National Officer for Energy and Utilities said: “Demand for smart meters to be ditted in households has not reached the levels expected by the company – hence the job losses announced by the SSE retail sector.

“This situation is 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.”

SSE, however, told ELN the reason for the voluntary redundancies wasn’t solely based on smart meters and insisted they include both the smart metering and customer service staff.