Pub campaigner warns £15 pint prices could spark thousands of closures across UK
Thousands of pubs could close because it is not “viable” for landlords to raise the price of a pint to £15 or £20, a leading campaigner has said
Pubs across the UK face an existential crisis as energy bill hikes come into place.
Regulator Ofgem has already confirmed that bills for an average UK household will surge by 80 percent in October, when the new price cap comes into force.
But businesses operate without a regulated price cap, with some pub owners warning that their bills have quadrupled or are struggling to even find suppliers willing to power their venues when contracts come up for renewal.
William Lees Jones, managing director of the JW Lees pub group, said: “We have publicans who are experiencing 300 percent plus increases in energy costs and some energy companies are refusing to even quote for supply."
And Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) group, claims the cost of a pint will have to rise to “ridiculous” amounts to match the increase in running costs that pub landlords now face.
He said some pubs were seeing bills go up by 500 percent to 600 percent.
Mr Stainer noted that a CAMRA survey this summer found that more than 50 percent of the British public think that the cost of a pint is already unaffordable, meaning customers would be put off by a £15 or £20 pint.
He told the Daily Star: “What you can say with surety is you can’t possibly pass on these energy increases and you can’t increase the pint by 500 percent.
“It just isn’t viable for pubs to pass (price hikes this big) on to consumers because people wouldn’t come drink at pubs anyway.”
Mr Stainer called on the Government to take action and support the hospitality industry by reviewing energy costs, business rates and beer tax.
He added: “So thousands could be affected by this.
"And they can close – and the difference with (pubs compared to) other sorts of businesses is once a pub closes it very rarely comes back.”
His warning follows craft brewer BrewDog’s announcement it will close six pubs over its rocketing energy bills as it criticised the Government for being “clueless”.
Bosses of six of the UK’s biggest pub and brewing companies, including Greene King, Carlsberg Marston’s and Drake & Morgan, also signed an open letter to the Government.
They called for urgent action to avoid “real and serious irreversible” damage to the sector.