On Wednesday (21 September), business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg unveiled the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme.
This means there will be a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers such as pubs.
It will apply to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022 as well as to deemed, variable and flexible tariffs and contracts.
The discount will apply to energy usage from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023, running for an initial six months. The savings will come into force from October bills, which are usually received in November.
Trade bodies and sector leaders responded to the announcement with the British Beer & Pub Association welcoming the intervention, labelling it a “lifeline for many pubs and brewers this winter”.
However, chief executive Emma McClarkin also called for more support going forward and a plan for beyond the next six months.
Industry representatives argue that the Government has not gone far enough in its support of the hospitality sector.
Greater Manchester night-time economy adviser Sacha Lord says: “I’m pleased the economic importance of pubs and the hospitality sector is finally being recognised and that support is being pledged beyond this initial six-month period. These plans may go some way to staving off the redundancies we have been expecting across the sector.
“However, only time will tell if the Government has gone far enough. Even with this help, businesses will still be paying more than they’re used to, and off the back of the pandemic, the real concern is whether they can afford to continue trading even with the support being offered.”
The calls for further support for the sector were echoed by Punch Pubs & Co chief executive Clive Chesser.
“We must also remember that while an energy price cap will help to ease some of the specific challenges over the next six months, this crisis is combined with other extreme cost increases and dramatically reduced consumer confidence and spending power, meaning that further support is needed if it is to be truly effective in preventing pub closures and unimaginable job losses,” says Chesser.
“The pressure on businesses, both large and small, remains unrelenting.”