Wait for Gov support 'heart-breaking' for pubs

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

No cash reserves left: pubs need immediate support amid soaring energy costs (Credit: Getty/South_agency)
No cash reserves left: pubs need immediate support amid soaring energy costs (Credit: Getty/South_agency)

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Hospitality businesses are “vital community assets” but face “real danger” of not surviving the winter without Government support amid soaring energy costs, according to one Wirral based operator.

Licensee of the Rose and Crown pub in Bebington, James Skinner, said having to wait until November for help to navigate through the ongoing energy crisis would be “heart-breaking” and “too late​” for many operators.

He said: “The nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping noticeably so hospitality businesses and many others will need to use more energy​ to keep the lights and heating on and we might have to wait another two and a half months before we receive any support.

“We don't have cash reserves saved away for 'rainy day's’ anymore. They were all used up recovering from Covid.

Worst time for businesses 

“Instead, we have things like Bounce Back Loans that need repaying, we have deferred VAT that needs paying and it's all coming at precisely the worst time for businesses.”

This follows a recent announcement from a Government official stating businesses could have to wait until November for help as part of a £150bn energy support​ package. 

Skinner, who has been licensee at the Rose and Crown for the past year four years, explained the pubs electricity bills had risen from 13.6p/KWh tp 37p per unit with standing charges having increased from 14p a day to 40p, pushing the annual cost up from around £9,000 to more than £25,000 with further increases predicted for next year.

Furthermore, the Rose and Crown, which is a 100% wet led pub, has been paying more than five times its usual amount for gas since May this year, with the sites winter gas bill predicted to be some £400 per month.

Skinner added: “In terms of how [this] will impact our business, who knows. It could quite literally be the difference between closing​ the pub and staying open.

“We face a very real danger of not surviving this winter and I know that is a position faced by most small businesses.”

The operator called for a return of some of the support granted during the pandemic, such as business rates relief.

Furthermore, Skinner added the sector needed VAT reductions across the board, not just on food, soft drinks, and accommodation but on alcoholic drinks as well, to give operators the breathing room required to keep the lights on and the doors open.

This comes as thousands of members from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA​) earlier this week wrote to their MPs seeking support for the pub sector, after the reported delays in Government help reaching businesses.

Immediate support 

In a recent tongue in cheek comment on Twitter, Skinner suggested pubs stop selling lager, allowing them to turn off high usage electrical equipment such as coolers, and serve only cask beer instead, light the pub with candles and ask locals for spare firewood, though the licensee said he feared this could become a reality.

Skinner said: "Pubs are vital community assets. This was proven during Covid. [They are] places for people to socialise, but more importantly this year, they will actually be places for people to go and stay warm.

“Small businesses need support and they need it immediately.

“What could be more catastrophic for the economy than virtually every small business in the country facing the possibility of closure at some point over the course of this winter?”

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