Highfield Hotel boss calls for action after 300% rise in energy bills

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The hotel is facing its biggest threat in more than 30 years of business.

A Sunderland hotel boss is urging the Government to bring forward help for businesses struggling with soaring energy costs.

Charlee Limratana is a director at the Highfield Hotel in East Rainton.

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The business has seen its costs skyrocket in the last two years.

“Like many other businesses we were heavily impacted by the energy price spikes of late 2022 and are now paying over 300% more for our gas and electricity supply,” he said.

Highfield Hotel Bar And Restaurant director Charlee LimratanaHighfield Hotel Bar And Restaurant director Charlee Limratana
Highfield Hotel Bar And Restaurant director Charlee Limratana

“There is myself and there are perhaps three others that I know of that have seen costs increase by between three and four hundred per cent.

“Unlike micro businesses and non-business consumers, we are not protected by the energy price cap.”

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With more unavoidable cost rises in the pipeline, the need for action was urgent, he added: “Given the coming rise in minimum wage there will only be further business closures unless the issue is brought to the forefront.

“This is the biggest threat to our operation we have faced in over 30 years of business and from conversations with other businesses many feel the same.

The Government is currently working with energy regulator Ofgem on a review into how non-domestic energy markets operate and the complaints process for small to medium sized businesses.

“However, the pace at which this reform is taking has meant that unfortunately for many of my peers this is too little, too late,” said Charlee.

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“We wrote to our MP Bridget Phillipson and she wrote to the energy regulator for us - they said they were putting this in place but it is so slow. These things are not going to come into effect for nine or then month.

“By the the time that happens, a lot of the businesses that are struggling now are not going to be here.”

Mr Limratana said he had looked into the possibility of a legal challenge to the rise in his bills, but again, the costs had been too high: “We looked at going through the legal process,” he said.

“We spent £1,000 and we got to the point where they said ‘You have got a good case - but it will cost you another £90,000 to bring it to court.’

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