Publicans have called on ministers to introduce an energy price rise cap for venues amid pleas that bill hikes threaten to “be a pub killer.”
The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) said the majority of its members were experiencing a minimum 300 per cent increase in energy costs, all while venues attempt to recover from the side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter to ministers, the trade body urged Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and business minister Kwasi Kwarteng to issue grant support for pubs, as well as introduce a cap for businesses similar to the one for households.
It comes as pubs are facing heftier operational costs and staff shortages while punters are tightening their purse strings amid historic levels of inflation.
An avalanche of cost increases has left “many long-standing, successful pubs simply unviable,” according to the BII’s chief executive officer Steve Alton.
The trade body has also called for a full cancellation of business rates for 2023/2024, as well as a root and branch reform of the system to rebalance taxes with the digital economy.
What’s more, the BII’s letter called for a significant draught beer and cider duty cut for pubs, 20 per cent reduction for a minimum container size of 20 litres.
“Even at the height of summer, the busiest time of year for pubs, licensees are now seriously considering the sustainability of their businesses, as the astronomical rising cost of business is undermining any recovery they may have already made,” Steve Alton, CEO of the BII said.
Hikes to energy bills “alone will be enough to destroy many of these much loved and needed small businesses,” that helped gel communities, the industry chief added.
One of the UK’s night time economy advisers, Sacha Lord, called on ministers for “immediate intervention,” speaking on Sky News earlier this week.
“The hospitality sector is one of the most integral parts of the UK economy, and one which is now in an extremely perilous position, more so than during the Covid pandemic,” the Greater Manchester night czar said.
“Historical debt burdens racked up over the past two years, combined with the unrelenting economic pressures have created a perfect storm which is tearing through the heart of the sector,” he added.
A HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve stood behind the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic with a £400bn package of economy-wide support that saved millions of jobs and offered a lifeline to hundreds of night-time businesses up and down the country.
“And at the Spring Statement we went further, announcing a £1,000 increase to the Employment Allowance which will cut taxes for hundreds of thousands of businesses and slashing fuel duty by record levels, whilst we have also halved business rates for the hospitality sector and frozen alcohol duty saving consumers £3bn.”