The British Beer and Pub Association has today called on Chairs of Treasury and Business Select Committees to conduct an urgent inquiry into worrying reports of poor conduct from energy suppliers The British Beer and Pub Association has today written to Harriett Baldwin MP and Darren Jones MP, Chairs of the Treasury and Business Select Committee respectively, to urge them to convene an immediate inquiry into the energy sector and potential instances of profiteering. Introduced in October, the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme was intended to bring down energy costs for millions of businesses but has since had little positive impact for the brewing and pub sector. The trade body is reporting countless examples of price hikes and poor practice which in many cases have meant the impact of Government support is effectively nil, and has led to suspicions of profiteering on the back of taxpayers’ money. Reports from publicans and brewers include sharp increases in non-energy costs being layered onto bills, harsh new terms and conditions, requirements for enormous up-front security deposits and even flat out refusing to contract with hospitality businesses at all. The BBPA has written to the energy regulator Ofgem which is investigating the claims, but says there is a need for action immediately to prevent what is already becoming the number one cause of business failure in the sector. The BBPA is calling on MPs in Westminster to demand an explanation from energy suppliers for the current state of the market. It is also essential that the recent reduction in wholesale prices is reflected in energy bills quickly. Gemma Gardener who runs The York in Morecambe said: “Not only have our energy bills been extortionate, but our supplier has also added on extra unexpected charges outside of our standard rates, from a £2k installation fee to doubling our daily hire charge unexpectedly. “We have tried to switch suppliers but been rejected, and the only reason we’re able to keep going is because our pub company is helping us through. We’re struggling with our bills but so are our customers and so we’re being squeezed at both ends. “Not knowing what we’ll be charged month on month is incredibly scary, this isn’t only our business but our home and we’re at the mercy of our energy suppliers.” Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: “The spiralling cost of energy has been our members’ number one concern for close to a year now and remains so. Now, multiple reports of poor practice have compelled us to speak up on behalf of suffering businesses and make this urgent call. “There is no doubt that this is causing businesses to fail – people simply cannot afford to make ends meet and are left with no choice but to shut up shop meaning a community loses its pub or brewery, and the jobs and livelihoods that go with it, for good. “The Government put this support measure in place to stop this very thing from happening, but the energy suppliers just don’t seem to be playing fair. The damage being wrought on our sector is enormous and I hope that MPs will heed this call and investigate the issues fully.”
Responding to the publication of the Government response to their second Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) consultation, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The delay to the implementation of a DRS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland until October 2025 at the earliest is a positive move. To ensure a functioning and effective scheme across all UK nations it is crucial that enough planning time is provided, and that learnings are applied from the Scottish DRS, which is due to begin in August this year. With this in mind, we are urging the Government to swiftly appoint a deposit management organisation to ensure businesses are provided with requirement information as early as possible. “With less than eight months until the go live date in Scotland it is imperative that DEFRA, HMT and HMRC provide further information on VAT on deposits as a matter of urgency. Businesses are unable to fully cost and plan for the impact of a DRS without this detail. The complex nature of DRS means the operational challenge is extremely large and it is crucial further information is provided as we move ever nearer to the implementation date in Scotland if the scheme is to operate effectively and efficiently. It is also critical for businesses that operate across the UK that the schemes are interoperable, as entirely separate schemes add unnecessary risks and complications for businesses in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
The Brewers’ Research and Education Fund (BREF) 2023/2024 is now open for applications, with the judging board on the lookout for the brightest and best ideas to benefit the brewing and pub industry. For over a decade, BREF has annually supported ideas that seek to improve and support the UK brewing industry, including through awards for projects focusing on the benefits of moderate beer consumption, sustainability, hygiene, hop diversification and educational activities. The fund is an opportunity for individuals, groups or organisations to be creative in thinking about how the brewing process, breweries and their supply chains could be supported to make their work even better. Created through funds originally provided by the BBPA, BREF is now administered through the Worshipful Company of Brewers as trustees , with the BBPA promoting the fund and providing the secretariat. Nick Tindal, Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Brewers said: “The Brewers’ Research & Education Fund is a great example of the Brewers' Company’s focus on investing in the future of the brewing industry. As the Trustee of the fund, the Brewers’ Company looks forward to awarding grants to another selection of valuable industry research projects and the opportunity to further education in beer and brewing.” Applications will be judged by an Advisory Committee made up of leaders and experts from across the industry, including Richard Westwood (Chair of the BREF Advisory Committee), Andrew Runcie (MCUK), Fergus Fitzgerald (Adnams) Georgina Young (St. Austell Brewery), Miles Jenner (Harvey and Sons). Applications can be made via the BBPA’s website. Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: “You only have to look at the diverse selection of beers on offer at the bar to see just how creative brewers are. “As an industry we strive for brilliance and this fund seeks to support that passion and enthusiasm for innovation in our craft to develop and keep Great British beer thriving.” For more information or to apply visit the BBPA website.