The UK pub industry has issued a stark warning to the government that thousands of establishments could be forced to close amid soaring prices of raw materials and energy.
Six of the country’s biggest pub and brewing firms said some pubs have experienced a more than 300-percent hike in bills this year, as part of a wider cost of living crisis.
“I have seen people saying that they are expecting their bills to rocket by 100 to 300%, 400% even in some cases. And we have…definitely seen pubs… posting information about their bills going up from 30,000 pounds a year to 150,000 pounds plus in a year”, said Nik Antona, Chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale.
Britain’s cost-of-living crisis has seen inflation soar to 40-year highs. Last week, UK energy regulator, Ofgem, announced a staggering 80% increase in gas and electricity prices for the average household from October.
But unlike households, businesses don’t benefit from a cap on what suppliers can charge for gas and electricity. That means that pubs are having to up their prices while running the risk of scaring away customers.
“We’re definitely seeing an increase in prices in some of our raw materials like the grain we use, the hops that we are using, we’ve definitely seen those kind of go up in price a little bit”, explained Josh Walker, Production manager at the Exale craft brewery in London.
For centuries, pubs have served as an important social center and the focus of communities across the country. But this is just the latest blow for an industry which has struggled to recover from the damage caused by coronavirus lockdowns.
The number of pubs in England and Wales sank below 40,000 for the first time ever in the first six months of this year.
The British Beer and Pub Association said energy price rises, caused by hikes in wholesale costs and a squeeze on supplies due to the war in Ukraine, could damage the sector more than the pandemic if nothing is done.