Owner of 100-year-old Devon department store having 'sleepless nights' over soaring energy costs

David Austin told ITV News' Sam Blackledge the situation is desperate.

The owner of one of Devon's oldest department stores has admitted suffering sleepless nights as a result of rising energy bills.

David Austin, who runs Austins in Newton Abbot, founded 100 years ago, says the situation is desperate.

Mr Austin says he fears for the future of smaller businesses. Credit: ITV News

Mr Austin told ITV West Country: "I hate to say it. I've woken up in the middle of the night. We're now on a massively increased rate, which is about three and a half times what we used to pay.

"It's costing us many, many thousands a year extra, probably at least £80,000 a year extra in just electricity costs. So it's a very, very worrying situation for us, and I'm sure for many other businesses."

And it's not just the financial strain - Mark Amphlett, vice-chair of Newton Abbot's Chamber of Commerce, is increasingly worried about business owners' mental health.

"These people are taking this home with them at night, worrying about their staff, the viability of their business moving forward.

"I'm hoping that in the summer the price will come down, maybe some sort of incentives. I'm just hoping (the Government) do something to help

Richard Hadley runs the Carpenters Arms in Ilsington. Credit: ITV News

In the nearby village of Ilsington, husband and wife Richard and Yvonne run the local pub.

Richard says their monthly energy bill has jumped from around £570 two years ago to around £2,000 today.

"There's no way we can retain that cost from the customer, I can't charge £10 a pint to pay for my electricity bill," he said.

"The ultimate thing is cutting costs. It's trying to find ways to change what we do within the business to make a little bit more money every week just to pay the bills."