The Aberdeen hotelier who stopped offering accommodation because of soaring energy bills has said new support measures won’t help him.
Steven Finnie, who owns the Aberdeen Northern Hotel on Great Northern Road, also called for a further “windfall tax” on energy firms making “huge profits” just now.
He was speaking after working out that he will derive no benefit whatsoever from the energy cap package for businesses announced by the UK Government last week.
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said the government would pick up nearly half of firms’ soaring energy bills to help keep them afloat this winter.
It’s unreal the price cap won’t benefit me and demonstrates the energy firms will still make huge profits.”
Steven Finnie, owner, Aberdeen Northern Hotel.
The wholesale cost of gas and electricity will be slashed for companies, public services and charities under a scheme which will run for six months, compared with a two-year scheme for households, starting in October.
The support package also includes plans for a review halfway through, when the government will decide how to continue supporting the most vulnerable businesses after the scheme ends.
Mr Finnie, who now has only the bar open at his 32-bedroom hotel, said: “There is no support at all for the hotel as we renewed our energy contract in March. The support only applies to deals made after April 1.
“It is bitterly disappointing,” he said, adding: “The government is quite happy to lift a cap on bankers’ bonuses and allow energy companies to make vast profits, but put all of the burden of this on the taxpayers.
“Even if I had renewed after April 1 the price cap wouldn’t have benefited me anyway.
“Apparently, the deal I am on until March 2023 is already well below the price-capped amount.”
‘Unbelievably massive’ bills
He continued: “Given how unbelievably massive my bills are, it’s unreal the price cap won’t benefit me and demonstrates the energy firms will still make huge profits.
“It should be funded by a windfall tax – the fact that we will pick up the tab is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, business owners in Fort William have mixed feelings after mulling details of the new support package.
Arita Bereza, who owns and runs a vegan cafe, The Wildcat in the town, said: “It is hard to tell if it will be helpful right now. We will have to wait and see.
“I have another business in Glasgow with a different energy supplier so it might help one more than the other.”
The increase in energy prices will affect smaller businesses most.”
Viktorija Melnikaite, owner, The Kilted Camel, Fort William.
Ms Bereza said she hoped it would work out well for firms as “small businesses won’t survive the energy crisis otherwise”.
“Many simply can’t afford to pay their electricity bills right now,” she added.
Elaine Welch, finance manager at Highland Cinema, said: “As a relatively new business, we are very pleased to be receiving similar support to households at this time.”
Viktorija Melnikaite, the owner of The Kilted Camel ice cream and coffee shop on High Street, said: “I think it’s a great help.
“Fort William is very seasonal so winter is hard, especially for small businesses. That’s why many close down as they can’t survive.
“The increase in energy prices will affect smaller businesses most.
“It will make it even harder (for small retailers) to compete with bigger stores.
“They can afford to lower their prices but smaller businesses can’t do that.
“But I think the new scheme will help a lot in the winter.”
More permanent solution ‘urgently required’
Ben Nevis Holiday Park manager Andrew Wright said: “While we are relieved the government has provided support to businesses over the winter months, it is only short-term so a more permanent solution is still urgently required.
“Additionally, this only addresses one aspect of the cost-of-living crisis.
“We are still eagerly awaiting further support for businesses to protect the economy and employment.”