Pubs and restaurants are running out of time to stay afloat, industry chiefs have said, amid rumours of a delay to energy help for businesses.
Government officials had warned business chiefs that a six-month support scheme may not be ready until November, according to a report in The Financial Times.
Reports did suggest that officials were hopeful aid could be launched in October.
However, hospitality leaders were shocked at the reports and said publicans were making decisions now on whether to close this winter.
“Pubs and brewers will not be able to wait days, let alone months to get clarity on their energy bills,” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said.
The BBPA called for “urgent clarity” on the scheme, which is expected to offer the equivalent support as an energy price cap for households.
The government is set to announce further details of support next week, in a mini-budget.
“The scheme will support businesses with their October energy bills, including through backdating if necessary,” a government spokesperson added.
The body urged the Chancellor “to seriously consider what immediate reassurance he can give for the thousands of business owners currently in despair.”
Sacha Lord, chair of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said “critical intervention” was needed.
Pub and bar operators across the country were “still none the wiser as to how to move forward.”
Many business owners were “receiving terms of agreements from energy companies far beyond their means, with no knowledge or advice on how they will be supported,” he added.
Annual energy costs under prices available for businesses now are “simply untenable” for smaller club operators, Michael Kill, NTIA CEO, said.
“Any further delay in the release of detailed support for businesses is unacceptable,” he said.
“Businesses are making irreversible decisions today, that are impacting thousands of peoples lives.”
“We have now reached such a crisis point that only immediate and large scale interventions can save huge parts of the sector, with substantial cuts to VAT, an extension of business rates relief and a meaningful energy price freeze for SME’s which is affordable.”