Cardiff bar fears for future as 'astonishing' energy prices 'increase threefold'

Mr Price says he's now had to consider increasing prices for customers.

A bar owner says he is worried about the future of his business after he saw an "astonishing" rise in energy costs this month.Haydn Price who owns Eagle bar in Cardiff city centre says the venue's energy bills trebled at the start of this month, as the energy crisis starts to hit businesses and households across the country.Energy bills are at an all-time high, food costs are mounting and inflation has climbed to its highest rate in a decade according to the Welsh Government.

As annual tariffs come to an end, some households and businesses have already started to feel the strain of rising costs.

Mr Price said he was given a three-month warning that his tariff would rise, and that his business has already felt the brunt of the change.

"As a small bar it has such a huge knock-on effect because it's such a huge hike in costs," he said.

"Half the companies won't even quote when they know it's a hospitality business.

"No reason has been given at all. We think it's because hospitality gets closed down by the pandemic, and the energy companies don't get any money then.

"They are trying to cover themselves if we get closed down again.

"Or like we are at the moment where we are only open certain hours, we are not using the electricity we would have been using."

Mr Price said that while the business was expecting some increase in cost, they were "astonished" by how much it had increased.

Mr Price made the difficult decision not to increase the prices of his small bar, Eagle, because he wants to compete with other bars.

Mr Price also said he's now had to consider increasing prices for customers."The concern is, we're not talking a small hike, we're talking a three-fold increase in energy charges and it's expected to go up again," he explained.

"We can't just put up prices when our overheads go up because we've got to compete with others in the area.

"If we are expensive people will vote with their feet and won't come in. That's what worries me."

"I was astonished, we first had our notification in September and I was absolutely astonished."

Mr Price said that the struggle is compounded by the need to hire more staff in order to comply with restrictions.

Data by The Office for National Statistics published on January 20 showed that two-thirds of UK adults have seen their cost of living jump over the past month as energy bills soared.

It found that 66% of adults surveyed saw their cost of living increase.

Mr Price said he has chosen to put the business on a monthly tariff currently in the hopes that rates would go down, despite this looking increasingly unlikely.

"We're doing month by month one at the moment, we're pretty certain we are going to sign a longer-term one but the worry is what is going to happen in the future? Said Hadyn.

"When the only way you can recuperate your costs is to pass it on to your customer, who will also be worrying about the cost of living increasing and worrying about their prices, it's a concerning situation for any business to be in.

"The customers are going to have to tighten their belts, so what do they do? stop going out, then my business goes down the pan."

Low-income families could spend on average 18% of their income after housing costs on energy bills after April, according to analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

This rises to 54% for single adult households, and around a quarter for single parents and couples without children.

The bar is open at reduced capacity and hours currently due to restrictions, however, with costs already rising Mr Price is worried as to how he will be able to afford to open as he used to.

"The more you're open, the more your costs go up. When you're closed you've got your basic costs like your fridges, but when you're open you've got lighting, heating - and because we're a basement bar we've got circulation running through.

"It all adds up. You start to think 'we haven't got many in, shall we cut the heating a bit because we can't afford it, but if it's too cold people won't stay. You can't win."

The Welsh Government have said the situation has been made "worse by the UK government."

Wales’ economy minister Vaughan Gething said at a press conference, "The cruel decision to cut the £20 uplift to universal credit and the national insurance hike in April will make the cost of living crisis even worse."

UK Government response

A spokesman said: “We recognise the pressures people are facing on their household bills, which is why we have taken decisive steps to support them.

“The energy price cap has been protecting around 15 million households from high global gas prices. We are also supporting vulnerable and low-income households with the cost of fuel bills through schemes such as the Warm Home Discount and our £500 million Household Support Fund.

“Working families on Universal Credit are already seeing more money in their pockets, with an average of £1,000 more a year, and we’re increasing the living wage again in April.

“We will continue to look closely at the pressures facing people and what further measures might be needed on abating high energy costs.”