Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Britain's pubs and chip shops are under threat: Where are the culture warriors?

It's not just individuals and families who will be hit by the horrific rise in fuel prices: businesses will be two.

And among them are two types of business we like to think of as quintessentially British.

The Independent reports today:

Pubs and brewers across the UK are at risk of closure within months amid price hikes upwards of 300%, industry bosses have warned.

Bosses of six of the UK’s biggest pub and brewing companies have signed an open letter to the government urging it to act in order to avoid “real and serious irreversible” damage to the sector.

Greene King, JW Lees, Carlsberg Marston’s, Admiral Taverns, Drake & Morgan and St Austell Brewery all sounded the alarm on Tuesday.

You can find the full letter on the British Beer and Pub Association site:

Dear Prime Minister

As Chief Executives of breweries and pub companies who are experiencing first-hand the hugely damaging impacts of the energy crisis, we feel compelled to write to you to calling for urgent 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. The time to act is now.

A recent report from one licensee of a small community pub was of a £33,000 increase on their previous year’s energy costs. This is one of countless examples of stark energy quotes. These figures when compared to a venues profitability simply do not add up. Without swift and substantial  intervention from Government there is no doubt we will witness a huge number of pubs close their doors for good, leaving individuals without jobs during a cost-of-living crisis and communities without its social heartbeat. Breweries that supply them are equally facing eye-watering increases in energy costs.

Rising energy costs is an issue impacting the entirety of the industry’s supply chain, with major CO2 producer CF Industries announcing it will be ceasing production of what is a critical component in beer production and dispense in pubs, citing market conditions as a key decision driver. 

Additionally, energy price increases have come at a time when the pub and brewing sectors had just begun to piece together their recovery from the pandemic, with many venues still carrying debt accrued from this time. Without Government support, all of the positive work done to support the sector during the pandemic could be wasted, as unprecedented costs tip many pubs and brewers over the edge.

We urgently need the Government and the leadership contenders to outline a targeted support package for the sector. For example, along with a pause on levies, the introduction of an energy price cap for small businesses will go a long way to stop rocketing prices crippling pubs and breweries, and additional grant support will aid pubs before we lose them forever in communities across the country.

And the is was on BBC News last week:
Fish and chip shops are facing "extinction" amid rising costs, an industry body has warned. 
Some shops in the West of England say the soaring price of cod, sunflower oil and energy has left them struggling. 
The National Federation of Fish Friers is urging the government to cut VAT and help shops with energy bills.
What I want to know is this: why aren't the culture warriors all over this? Fighting off a threat to our chip shops and pubs should be what gets them out of bed in the morning.

But we have heard nothing from them on social media or in real life.

And, yes, I'm talking about you, Nigel Farage.

As Delia Smith once put it:
"Where are you? Where are you? Let's be 'avin you! Come on!"
Incidentally, I am well aware of the history of fish and chips in Britain. Anyone who tells me about it, here or on Twitter, will set off a loud QI-style klaxon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a good point. Fish and chip shops and pubs should resonante with rightist culture warriors. But this involves engaging with actual life: electricity prices, potential policy interventions etc. I think much of the attraction of being a right-wing culture warrior is that it is a (conscious?) way to avoid tangible policy questions, while still having lots of opinions.

Dr A