Thousands of pubs could close because it is not “viable” for landlords to raise the price of a pint to £15 or £20 to cover their soaring energy bills, a leading campaigner has warned.
Tom Stainer, the chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) group, told the Daily Star the cost of a pint would have to rise to “ridiculous” amounts to match the increase in running costs that pub landlords now face.
He said some pubs were watching their annual bills go up by 500% to 600%.
Unlike households' bills, businesses' energy costs are not price-capped.
Last week, pubs and brewing industry bosses published an open letter to the government warning of mass closures if the energy bills crisis was not urgently addressed.
Mr Stainer told the newspaper a CAMRA survey this summer found that more than 50% of the British public think that the cost of a pint is already unaffordable, meaning customers would be put off by a £15 or £20 pint.
“What you can say with surety is you can’t possibly pass on these energy increases and you can’t increase the pint by 500%,” he said.
“It just isn’t viable for pubs to pass (price hikes this big) on to consumers because people wouldn’t come drink at pubs anyway.”
If pub boss Anthony Pender hadn't locked in energy prices earlier this year, his electricity bill could have been more than £500,000. ITV News' Carl Dinnen reports.
Mr Stainer added: “So thousands (of pubs) could be affected by this. And they can close – and the difference with (pubs compared to) other sorts of businesses is once a pub closes it very rarely comes back.”
He has now called on the government to take action and support the hospitality industry by reviewing energy costs, business rates and beer tax.
His warning follows craft brewer BrewDog’s announcement it will close six pubs over its rocketing energy bills as it criticised the Government for being “clueless”.
Bosses of six of the UK’s biggest pub and brewing companies, including Greene King, Carlsberg Marston’s and Drake & Morgan, signed the open letter to the government last week, urging it to act to avoid “real and serious irreversible” damage to the sector.
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