As energy bills bite and the cost of living soars, it could soon be last orders for many of the UK’s pubs

Says who?

Says six of the UK’s leading pub and brewing chains – Greene King, JW Lees, Admiral Taverns, St Austell Brewery, Drake and Morgan and Carlsberg Marstons, who collectively make up the board of the British Beer and Pub Association. Concerned at the cost of energy among other things they have written an open letter to the government asking for some kind of support package for the industry and pointing out that unlike domestic customers, businesses such as pubs and inns have no energy cap – meaning the cost of lighting and heating their premises and, most important of all, keeping the beer flowing could simply rise and rise. Already some members are already facing price increases of over 400%, they note.

Will the government sort it?

What government? The current administration – or “the zombie government” as Labour at Westminster like to call it – has said no announcement on energy will be made until the new Prime Minister is in place on September 5. That’s over a week away. Heard that sound? Another pub taking down the darts board, emptying the puggie, sweeping under the pool table for any stray 50 pence pieces and closing its doors for good.

What does the letter say?

“Dear Prime Minister,” it begins, “we feel compelled to write to you to call for support … Across our businesses we are witnessing price rises which are causing irreversible damage. Hikes can now be upwards of 300% on pre-pandemic energy bills, with the current average increase around 150% across the beer and pub sector, putting jobs and businesses at risk. As more fixed price contracts come up for renewal this is only worsening.” It ends with a warning that unless something is done, pubs will be lost forever to communities across the country.

Anything else?

Each of the signatories to the letter have released separate statements too. Here’s what St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel has to say: “Having survived the unprecedented challenges arising from the pandemic, pubs and breweries are once again faced with an existential threat because of circumstances beyond their control. The cost of energy threatens to cause mass business failure and the loss of thousands of pubs across the country … Pubs bring people together and play a critical role in their community and British beer is part of our rich heritage. The market is failing our sector and we need an energy price cap for hospitality before this crisis forces our licensees to close their pubs.”

Last orders at the bar then?

Could be.

Cheers, then