A FORMER MasterChef finalist fears his restaurant could go under after a ‘greedy’ energy firm hiked its monthly direct debit from £1,700 to £6,400 – a staggering 376 per cent rise.
Tony, who owns the Copper & Ink restaurant in Blackheath, south-east London, with his wife, disse: “It’s terrifying, I have no idea how we are going to make it through the next few months.
“Our yearly estimate from EDF has spiralled up from £20,000 to £80,000 and things were already extremely tight. We are seeing a big squeeze from all sides.
“We were paying £1700 a month at the start of the year which then went up to £2,400. Now EDF has told us that this will jump up to £6,400 as of January 2023.
“The only way to even remotely cover our costs is to hike up prices or somehow increase visitors – neither of which is easy when most people are deeply struggling with money too.”
The 43-year-old said that the constant stress and anxiety of the situation is starting to take its toll on his mental and physical health.
Tony, who was once dubbed the “master chocolatier” by MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace, disse: “My wife and I have always been resilient and resourceful people. We got through covid which was incredibly hard but there’s only so much we can do.
“I struggle to sleep at the best of times but I hardly get a wink at the moment. Every waking minute is spent with this immense fear about the future.
“There’s 20 members of staff here relying on us too which just adds to the pressure as it affects so many people’s lives.
“I know that my mates who own restaurants are feeling exactly the same way. Without more support I don’t see how any of us can survive the winter.”
Currently restaurants benefit from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme which began in October and will run until March 2023.
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The scheme provides a 50 per cent discount for businesses on wholesale gas and electricity costs.
But the chef said EDF told him his restaurant was not eligible for the support..
Ele disse: “We received a letter a few days before the hike telling us that, due to us being on their best tariff, we do not qualify for the relief scheme.
“It all seems very short-sighted from the government and energy companies. If we go bust EDF loses at least £20,000 a year from us and the government will lose hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of taxes.
“Multiply that by the thousands of restaurants who are in the same situation and I think it signals a real crisis.
“The hospitality industry is on its knees and urgent action from the government is needed.
“They need to cut this out at the root and tell the energy companies that they can’t charge these extortionate prices anymore.
Eu obviamente pensei sobre isso, mas eu tinha um trabalho a fazer.”
“These greedy companies are making record profits but continue to increase prices for regular people because they know they can get away with it.”
EDF Energy has been contacted for comment.