A Darlington business owner has spoken of his shock at receiving a renewal letter that would have seen his energy bills rise from £600 to more than £8,000 a year.

Paul Pattison, who runs Staks Accounting in Darlington, couldn’t believe his eyes when he opened his one year fixed price energy plan from British Gas which gave a new price of £8,258.

Read more: Cost of living: What help is the government giving for energy bills?

The plan included an online discount of around £1,700 – meaning it could have cost him almost £10,000.

He said: “I’d been paying about £600 a year, and I knew it was going to go up, but I was thinking about £2,000, so I was completely shocked when I saw that.

“If we had to pay, we would have found a way, but it would bleed us dry. We’re fortunate that we don’t use as much energy as bigger businesses might. We’re low usage. But if this wasn’t done I’d be concerned. I’d be coming in with a sweater on and turning the heating off.”

Thankfully for Mr Pattison, he won’t have to pay the astonishing amount after the Government announced a new package of energy bill support, but business groups warned it is just a “short-term fix”.

Ministers said the new scheme could roughly halve the price paid for wholesale gas and electricity by non-domestic customers, which include schools and charities.

The Government will foot part of an organisation’s bill if the wholesale price of gas and electricity stays above a set level.

Read more: Energy Bill Support Scheme: How will the £400 energy payment be paid?

The support will work differently depending on what kind of energy tariff an organisation is on.

Ministers said the support will approximately match the per-unit price households will pay to cover the wholesale price of their energy from the start of October.

But unlike the two-year household support scheme, businesses will only be helped for six months from the start of October.

Mr Pattison said he was “quite optimistic” about the new energy cap.

“The biggest thing it has shown is that the energy market doesn’t seem to work very well. Prices can’t just keep being passed onto the consumer.

“The biggest problem for businesses is we can’t plan. Thee is no consistency and there is no certainty. The price cap allows us to start doing that.

“It is easy to give cash away to everyone because then you don’t miss anyone, but more targeted support would be fairer (for those using more energy).”


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