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Pubs closure warning as energy prices soar Published Date: 30/08/2022

Breweries and industry bodies have called for "immediate government intervention" on sky-high energy bills this winter.

In an open letter to the government, six pub and brewing groups - JW Lees, Carlsberg Marston's, Admiral Taverns, Drake & Morgan, Greene King and St Austell Brewery - called for urgent intervention, including a support package and a cap on the price of energy for businesses.

Rocketing energy bills come at a time when the number of pubs in England and Wales is falling, hitting the lowest level on record - 39,970 in June, according to analysis BBC News reported.

Chris Jowsey, boss of Admiral Taverns which has 1,600 pubs, said his tenanted pubs now pay more in energy bills than they do in rent.

Mr Jowsey said Admiral was investing in energy-saving equipment for pub cellars and to control how much energy fridges use. He also said the company was "looking very closely at a scheme to try and buy energy in bulk and to allow licensees to make use of our own scale".

But he said: "Even when we went to the energy market in recent months, no-one was initially willing to supply even us, never mind an individual licensee and their pub.

"So we're trying to do everything we can," said Mr Jowsey. "But frankly, this is of such a scale that even we can't support this on our own, we desperately need government intervention to help because actually the market is broken."

Separately, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have jointly signed a letter to the Chancellor highlighting the challenges which are putting the future of the UK beer industry at risk.

Roy Allkin, Chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) said:

“With energy bills soaring we are calling on Government to back British beer and help independent brewers with an energy price cap for small businesses, and to offer grants and incentives for the many businesses looking to brew with more green energy.

It is also vital that the Governments plan to tempt people back to the pub with a new discounted draught duty rate is extended to the smaller twenty and thirty litre containers used by small brewers, or risk Global lager brands being the only ones who benefit.”

Nik Antona, Chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said:

“Pubs goers and beer drinkers want to see urgent action from government to make sure that the UK’s best beers, brands and breweries can survive these unprecedented times of rocketing energy and ingredient costs and a dip in consumer confidence.

“With businesses having pulled out all the stops to make it through the pandemic, it would be a travesty if more of our local, small and independent breweries were forced to close for good now due to the crisis with the cost of energy, goods, and doing business.”

In response, the Government said: “No government can control the global factors pushing up the price of energy and other business costs but we will continue to support the hospitality sector in navigating the months ahead.

“That includes providing a 50% business rates relief for businesses across the UK, freezing alcohol duty rates on beer, cider, wine and spirits and reducing employer national insurance."