The current energy bill relief scheme for non-domestic customers came into force last year and there have been repeated calls from many across the industry to continue to support the sector.
Its closure will add further pressures to a struggling sector to retain profit margins, with more than 560 pubs closing their doors throughout last year – more than during each year of the pandemic, trade body the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) warned.
It estimated the £18,400 hike in bills and is calling on the Government to insist suppliers offer a window of renegotiation in a bid to let firms locked into high rates to recover their cost base.
Licensee of the Windsor Castle near Stockport, Joanne Farrell highlighted how her business will be impacted from April onwards.
She said: “When energy costs rocketed my bills went up threefold, the end of the support will see them rise even further.
“I’ve run this pub for 15 years but this is toughest it’s ever been to keep it going. I‘m doing absolutely everything I can to save on energy costs but I also want my pub to remain a welcoming and warm place local people can enjoy.
“I’ve installed a wood burner, which saves me money and I’m hoovering in the dark so I’m not paying for electricity when there’s no customers in.”
Energy bills have been a critical issue for the sector, BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin outlined.
“As the 1 April draws closer, we have reached a point where businesses have nowhere left to go, as costs increase and their profit margins are completely erased,” she said.
“Last week, the Government extended energy support for consumers but left businesses out in the cold, in doing so, the Chancellor recognised the UK’s energy market is broken but to date has done little to fix it."
The trade body boss said: “As a result, pubs and breweries are now doing all they can to prepare for an extreme hike in costs come 1 April, with some expected to pay almost £20,000 more for their bills than the day before.
“If these costs were passed on at the bar it would push prices for customers through the roof. Our pubs and brewers are doing everything they can to limit the impact of these baked-in higher costs on consumers but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so.”
McClarkin urged the Government to intervene before the sector loses more businesses as a result of the hikes.
“With no action on energy for businesses, the simple fact is thousands of our pubs and brewers will be at risk of closure come 1 April and will be lost from communities across the country forever,” she added.
“We need the Government to step in, give businesses in the ‘pain zone’ of sky-high contract rates a window to renegotiate and bring those costs down.
“It’s clear a fair and sustainable energy market for businesses as well as consumers is needed before it’s too late.”