Watt: Punk would be £27.50 if in line with energy costs

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Price warning on watts usage: James Watt of BrewDog has warned many businesses will not survive
Price warning on watts usage: James Watt of BrewDog has warned many businesses will not survive

Related tags Beer Finance Social responsibility Craft beer Pubco + head office Multi-site pub operators

BrewDog’s James Watt has warned if its prices rose in line with its energy bills, a pint of Punk IPA would cost £27.50 and the price of a burger and fries would be an eye-watering £48.75.

The co-founder and chief executive of the Ellon-based brewer and bar operator also said many UK businesses are facing certain closure when current support with energy bills is withdrawn.

He said: “Would you like to pay £27.50 for a pint of Punk IPA? Nope, I didn’t think so. But that’s how much you’d be paying in BrewDog York, for example, if we’d put up prices in line with our soaring energy bills. Or how about £48.75 for a burger and fries?”

Watt went on to say “the crippling combination of the worst cost inflation for decades and squeezed consumer spending power” is threatening UK companies and Jeremy Hunt will make the situation worse when he rows back support for business energy bills from April.

“We’re only in the foothills of a crisis, which poses a far bigger threat to companies than Covid-19,” he said. “The sad reality is that there are many great businesses that simply will not survive 2023.”

Watt considers BrewDog to be in a fortunate because it has the scale and backing to survive but sees many smaller businesses not being so fortunate.

Wither and die

He continued: “The Government threw the kitchen sink at Covid but unless it acts quickly, tens of thousands of businesses vital to employment and our economy will wither and die.

“People inside government KNOW this. Not all of them are career politicians who’ve never done a day’s work in the ‘real world’ of business.

“This government has no plan, no ambition. People talk about a lack of industrial strategy. It’s far worse than that. There is no strategy full stop.

He went on to question why anyone would start a business in the UK today adding he has seen more breweries, bars and restaurants than he could name go out of business in the past few months “and that trend is only going to accelerate” and said “every one that fails is an arrow in the heart of the sector.”

Watt gave a list of five things the Government must do to save the economy.

Tax policy is a farce

Firstly, he would cut business rates in half for a year or even scrap them entirely, calling for the minimum of a review on the antiquated system.

Next, he said, is the tax policy “has been a farce” because the Government raised National Insurance in April then cut it in November. He said it needs to be cut further still and the employer’s contribution is “literally a tax on hiring and growth”.

Thirdly, a VAT holiday for hospitality is needed for a year while a deal is needed to end strikes rather than trying to ban them citing the lack of trains in December cost BrewDog more than £1m.

And finally, there should be state-backed loans to protect the “really small guys who could disappear completely with repayments starting in 12 months’ time”.

He concluded: “If this means spending a bit more money to support business through this nightmare now, it’s better than spending the money on unemployment benefits if thousands of businesses go under.

“Without more help, we’re sleep-walking towards utter disaster for the tens of thousands of businesses in the UK.”

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