It would almost be laughable if it weren’t so serious.
At a stroke, restaurant entrepreneur Jamie Scott is facing a hike of £73,000 to his annual energy bill for his renowned Newport business.
The MasterChef winner was paying £17,000. It’s now gone up to £90,000.
It’s an incredible sum, but it is not a mistake.
And Jamie now has to find the equivalent of three average full-time wages in Scotland for his business to simply stand still.
Where is that money expected to come from?
— Graham Huband (@C_GHuband) May 11, 2022
There is no magic money tree, as we’ve all been reminded.
So can Jamie Scott reasonably pass that cost on to his customers and pay the energy bill that way?
Or does he have to look at how he can pare back his operation to ensure there’s enough flex in the budget to cover the uplift?
There are difficult, potentially life-changing decisions that will have to be made.
And Jamie is far from alone.
Homes and businesses are being hit hard
Other businesses are also feeling the squeeze, just as hard-pressed households up and down the land are scrabbling to find the money to pay to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
The cost of living crisis is already hurting those who are already most in need.
John Lewis chair Sharon White absolutely blistering on #peston says cost of living crisis as acute as Covid and we need to be prepared to inject huge amounts of public money- says she’s terrified about energy bills rising and windfall tax is reasonable approach 1/
— Anushka Asthana (@AnushkaAsthana) May 11, 2022
It is squeezing people to the point where they have nothing left to give up or cut back on.
And now the wheels of business are slowly grinding to a halt as cost headwinds mount up and disposable incomes ebb away.
This not something that individuals or small businesses such as The Newport can sort out alone.
This is a structural problem that requires imagination and fleet-footedness.
It requires major government intervention to protect people and the companies that will help drive the economy forward to better times.
Sadly, all of those things seem to be in short supply right now.
Entrepreneurs like Jamie Scott have a knack for achieving the impossible. And he and others will, we hope, find a way to survive and thrive.
But more help is desperately needed.
The call – from the public and private sectors – is being made loud and clear. And those in positions of power must listen to it and act.
Or be prepared for the consequences.