Basingstoke restaurant owner left 'hopeless' as gas bill exceeds rent

  • Business owner, Manik Biswas, says the situation will leave him and thousands of others in 'really big trouble'.

A restaurant owner in Basingstoke has described his situation as 'really hopeless' after he discovered his soaring gas bill now exceeds how much he spends on rent.

Manik Biswas, owner of the Saffron Tandoori, saw his gas bill leap from around £1,800 in January to more than £3,000 in February alone.

In February last year he was paying £400 a month.

When he got the latest bill, he called the gas company: "I just asked: 'Is this the bill for the year that you've sent me?'"

"And then I've seen the date and I asked the gas company what was going on, what is the price?"

"I said this is ridiculous and what shall I do?, It is not viable that I pay"

"I said this is more than my rent!".

Manik expects his gas prices to soar even further in the peak months for trade. Credit: ITV News Meridian

As a restaurant owner, Manik is now in the unthinkable position of fearing for the busiest times of the year, where the restaurant sees an influx of bookings.

This is because more customers means more energy usage.

Manik said: "Could you imagine this is the amount for this month when it's quiet now but imagine when it's peak period, like Christmas, it's going to be more"

"I'm guessing my bills are now going to be around £40,000 a year, this is going to be much more than my rent".

Manik is now appealing directly to the government for more help to save businesses like his, just like it did during the course of the pandemic with schemes like furlough and 'Eat Out to Help Out'.

He said: "They looked after us but now it doesn't feel like this, now it is really hopeless"

"There's going to be thousands of people like me that are going to be in really big trouble"

"It's not just gas, it's things like cooking oil which have doubled in price and I cannot double my prices as I'll lose my trade".

Manik now faces tackling the increasingly difficult task of balancing the books whilst ensuring his customers aren't driven away by a more expensive menu.

He said: "If I increase my prices by 5% or 10% people will say that the prices have increased too much"

"We can't do it like this".