“THIS could wipe out a lot of businesses” – this is the warning of the owner of an Indian restaurant in Basingstoke who has seen his gas bill increase by more than 400 per cent this year.

Manik Biswas has run the Saffron Tandoori in Brighton Hill for 15 years, but said he is now facing tough times after his gas bill rose to more than £3,000 a month.

Read more: Basingstoke pensioner shocked after seeing energy bills skyrocked to £4,600 a month

The 40-year-old said he was contacted by British Gas in November to say his gas price would increase by 15 per cent when his fixed rate came to an end in January.

However, Mr Biswas thought the letter was a scam.

He said: “I thought ‘this can’t be right’ because we have just come out of the pandemic."

But in January Mr Biswas was shocked to receive a bill for around £1,800, which then rose to more than £3,000 in February.

He was previously paying less than £400 a month.

“I thought ‘oh my god I can’t pay this’. I asked what was going on and they said it was the variable rate,” he said.

Since January, British Gas has increased Mr Biswas’ unit price from 3.503p to 17.391p, an increase of almost 400 per cent.

The business owner is now worried for the future of his restaurant and said: “It would be unfair to pass the cost on to my customers. The maximum I can do is 10 per cent. There is something wrong.

“It’s not just me, lots of people run small businesses and this is not right. It’s not fair. All small businesses will struggle.”

Mr Biswas, who employs around 10 people, said he would need to charge more than £20 for individual curries to cover the cost increase, adding: “I have competition so if others don’t increase prices I can’t either. I have to think about myself and my customers.

“My appeal to the government would be if one business closes there could be quite a few people that impacts such as suppliers and staff. How many people behind me would it impact? If businesses close then lots of people will struggle. It will be worse than 2007 and it could wipe out a lot of businesses.”

Councillor Andrew McCormick, leader of the Basingstoke Labour group, who represents Brighton Hill described the increase for Mr Biswas as “outrageous”.

He warned: “We could see many businesses folding in months or even weeks.”

Cllr McCormick is calling on the government to reduce VAT on fuel to zero and provide 100 per cent business rate relief to retailers in an emergency budget.

He said: “This is to avoid businesses going under in the face of huge and shocking price increases which could trigger a recession even worse than the one we endured during the pandemic.”

A spokesperson for British Gas said: "We wrote to Mr Biswas in November 2021 and January 2022 informing him his contract was ending and inviting him to renew by 2 February or he would be transferred to variable prices, but we didn’t receive a response, so his unit prices increased to the variable rates.

"He has now agreed to a new fixed contract via his broker which has been in place since 7 April and we’re in touch to offer him support with making payments."

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