“You could decimate certain industries overnight, so somebody’s got to take action over this cost of living crisis; something drastic has got to be done.
A kind-hearted couple behind a Lancashire chippy have spent their summer feeding those struggling to eat. Now, they say the cost of living could cripple businesses like theirs if the situation gets worse.
Gillian Jervis, owner of Oliver’s Chippy in Warton which opened just more than one year ago, has been flinging open the doors at lunchtimes in the summer holidays. The free lunches for children, available every Tuesday and Wednesday from noon until 2pm, include sausage and chips, fish fingers and chips, four nuggets and chips, three fish bites and chips and chips with a sachet of sauce.
All meals include a Fruit Shoot, and are still available on August 23 and 24 and August 30 and 31 before the school term returns. The generous move was possible thanks to money from the parish council of Bryning and Warton.
Gillian told LancsLive that they had fed a total of 409 children over three weeks since the start of the summer holidays. She added: “I’m proud – but it is a bit tinged with sadness. I would not like to think how many it would be every day throughout the six weeks, because we don’t discriminate and we still stand by the same morals.
“As far as I’m aware, nowhere else is doing it other than us, no other chip shops. I had a colouring competition, and I’m providing sweets and things. I’m pleased I’m doing it but I’m also very sad that there’s that many children that have this need. We will see about doing it at around October time as well.
“I’m always thinking of ways of finding things for the kids, for Christmas and Halloween. I’m not like other businesses, I opened up for Halloween and had all the trick or treating sweets and I did the same at Christmas, putting out mince pies.”
The chippy also offers a 10% discount to NHS, police and fire workers. However, the couple, who have four children, are under no illusions when it comes to the tough challenges of the months ahead, pointing to sky rocketing energy bills that are uncapped for small businesses.
Her husband, Arron, told LancsLive that he was fearing for the future, after having seen a video clip of an LBC phone in radio show on TikTok, where a chip shop owner had claimed his energy bill was soaring from £6,000 a year to £70,000 due to the lack of price cap on commercial businesses. He told LancsLive : “There is no price cap on commercial electricity. Someone was saying on a video the other day that his annual electricity bill is about 6000 quid a year and next year will be around 70,000 quid.
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“When we started, I went into a three year fixed deal, but apparently now, on commercial power, gas and electric, there’s no price cap, but to go from three or four p a unit to 50 pence a unit, that’s like six grand to 70,000. You can’t absorb that; it’s impossible.
“I’ve still got two years left on my deal… but unless they do something drastic, hopefully, I’m hoping the government at least puts some sort of cap on it, as everybody who operates as a small business, I can’t see how they can carry on operating.”
He said: “I think there’s no way you could claw it back because the amount you’d have to charge for food would be more than a restaurant. It would be an increase of over 1000 per cent, maybe 1200 per cent or something ridiculous. Those sort of numbers, no business can cope with that.”
Food and packaging increases are also a concern, he said, adding: “When we first started, I think a box of fat was about 15 or 16 quid – that same box is now nearly thirty quid… it’s absolutely everything you look at. Fish is going to jump again shortly, and if it jumps it will jump another 20 or 30 per cent. We’ve got potatoes going up from September 2 again, so that’s another 50p. But it’s just the little bits here and there – even things like marrowfat peas, dry peas, never ever change price and they’ve gone up 40 per cent in the last nine months, just something as basic as peas, which is crazy, as every single thing you use has gone up.
“We are still busy – we are still keeping loyal customers, so I can’t complain and they are all wonderful. But it’s just that it’s making it more difficult to make the same money as you did 12 months ago. There’s always that risk that if it applies to that one guy, why shouldn’t it apply to every chippy in the country? You could decimate certain industries overnight, so somebody’s got to take action over this cost of living crisis; something drastic has got to be done.”
Meanwhile, an NHS leader warned today that the UK was facing a “humanitarian crisis” with an “unprecedented” risk of more deaths from cold homes this winter, according to the Mirror.. The same newspaper said earlier this week that UK inflation soared to 10.1% in the 12 months leading up to July this year, as the cost of living crisis continues to bite., up from 9.4 % in June, meaning that Consumer Prices Index inflation is currently five times higher than the Bank of England target of 2 %.
A spokesperson for energy industry regulator Ofgem pointed out in background information to Lancs Live that their top priority was to protect energy consumers and said they understood the challenges households and businesses were facing in light of the unprecedented increase in global gas prices. They said Ofgem had set the price cap in accordance with the government’s domestic gas and electricity act which came into force in 2018, requiring Ofgem to design and implement a temporary cap on default tariffs for domestic customers.. They said their energy advice for businesses could be found here: Energy advice for businesses | Ofgem
They said for suppliers, the duty to supply a connection only covered domestic consumers and that suppliers were not obliged to offer new connections or contracts to non-domestic consumers and advised non-domestic consumers to try multiple suppliers or make use of a broker to find an energy contract. They said Ofgem regularly monitors the level of activity in the non-domestic electricity and gas markets, that there are nearly 70 suppliers operating in these markets, including several players who are also gas producers, so price offers should still be available even if some suppliers may have stopped taking on new customers or may not be actively renewing some contracts.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said, on the soaring inflation figures earlier this week: “I understand that times are tough, and people are worried about increases in prices that countries around the world are facing. Although there are no easy solutions, we are helping where we can through a £37billion support package, with further payments for those on the lowest incomes, pensioners and the disabled, and £400 off energy bills for everyone in the coming months. Getting inflation under control is my top priority, and we are taking action through strong, independent monetary policy, responsible tax and spending decisions, and reforms to boost productivity and growth.”
A government spokesperson said, earlier this week: “No national government can control the global factors pushing up the price of energy and other business costs, but we will continue to support the hospitality sector in navigating the months ahead. That includes providing a 50 per cent business rates relief for businesses across the UK, freezing alcohol duty rates on beer, cider, wine and spirits and reducing employer national insurance. This is in addition to the billions in grants and loans offered throughout the pandemic.”
- 05:25, 22 AUG 2022
- UPDATED09:20, 22 AUG 2022