The partnership aimed at helping businesses in Sunderland city centre reduce their costs across essential services is likely to be even more valuable as the cost of living crisis continues.

Sunderland BID has a long-standing partnership with Great Annual Savings Group, which has used its expertise to save business customers money on everything from insurance to utilities.

And while the rocketing fuel prices mean there are fewer deals available, organisations can still benefit from professional advice and support.

Great Annual Savings Group has around 500 business customers across Sunderland and the relationship with the BID means its members can benefit from the expertise on offer.

Phil Andrew, Partnership Director at GAS said businesses are particularly vulnerable and stressed the importance of making the right decisions.

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“The cost of living crisis in the country has partially been fed by the cost of commodities increasing, which has a major impact on businesses via energy, fuel, utilities and raw materials”

“But businesses do not get the same levels of protection as consumer and households. There is no energy price cap for businesses, for example, and it’s essential they make the right decisions with their procurement.”

Mr Andrew added that “energy suppliers have periodically stopped offering contracts to businesses since the start of the crisis.”

“This could leave a business which isn’t organised exposed to out-of-contract rates, which have been more than six hundred per cent higher than the start of 2021.  It is a minefield,” he said.

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While there has been a faint glimmer of hope, with the current wholesale prices of gas and power dropping slightly from the highs of a couple of weeks ago, Mr Andrew added that “they are still more than four times the size of this time in 2021.”

GAS saves millions of pounds for customers every year and businesses across Sunderland city centre can get free support and advice from their own dedicated account manager.

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, is urging local companies to take advantage of the expertise on offer.

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“Businesses have had to deal with the fallout from the pandemic and are now facing the huge challenges caused by the massive increase in the cost of utilities,” she said.

“Our partnership with Great Annual Savings Group is one that can really help with expert advice across a whole range of areas and there really has never been a more important time to take advantage of this.”

Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) has more than 11,000 business customers across the UK and Ireland and can offer procurement and efficiency consultancy for free to any business in Sunderland.

The company has been a sponsor of a number of Sunderland BID initiatives, including the 100 Quick Wins clean-up campaign run in conjunction with Sunderland College and Sunderland Council.