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.”