Pubs have had to increase the price of beer by up to 30p
Pubs struggling amid the gas and supply chain crisis say they have “no choice” but to increase prices to survive.
The Three Wishes pub in Harrow, north London, told The Independent that the chancellor needs to do “whatever’s possible” to support pubs still finding their feet after months of lockdown followed by the onslaught of supply issues.
“Drinking habits have changed across the board,” pub landlady Tarnya McCafferty said. “We’re a working-class pub, we have predominantly male customers with families so we’re seeing the hit across the board of people being out of work and people not having as much work on so funds are tighter.”
Some industry leaders warned that the price of beer could rise by 30p for customers, however Ms McCafferty said although they’re trading less than usual, increasing prices could cause them to lose more customers already struggling with high living costs.
“If we put our prices up, we’ll be hit hard again, we’re already trading at less levels than we were. We don’t need anything to push those levels further down,” she added.
Ms McCafferty said gas suppliers had pubs “by the balls”. She added: “Whatever the prices are, they know they can add what they like to it and we’re going to pay it. What can we do?”
Trinity Bar in North London also urged more support for businesses in the brewery and pub sector.
“I don’t think people realise just how bad it is on the ground right now,” manager Chris Perdue told The Independent.
Unlike The Three Wishes pub, Mr Perdue said prices have had to increase by 10 per cent on some beers as a result of the ongoing issues.
“Beer prices have gone up 20-30p depending on the beer. It’s definitely hit the price of the customers but we have no choice, after the 18 months we’ve all had it’s difficult to take a loss on margin,” he added.
Mr Perdue agreed with calls for Rishi Sunak to freeze alcohol duty rates: “Anything that would help” is welcome adding that business rates have been the largest challenge for his bar.
Mr Perdue said supply chain issues were so bad, he’s unsure whether there will be enough beer for Christmas and neighbouring pubs are having to share gas cylinders because supplier deliveries are so scarce.
“To me it’s all the red flags we had from Brexit are happening now,” Mr Perdue added.
Tom Milne who runs Toolans pub in Barnet, north London, said pubs were hit by price increases whilst still in lockdown and had to reopen with increased prices.
“It’s not great, at the end of the day beer is at an all time high in this country,” Mr Milne told The Independent.
On calls to freeze duty rates for pubs, Mr Milne was in favour, arguing that British pubs already pay five tax more beer duty tax than in France.
Publicans have appealed to Chancellor Sunak for support for the brewing and pub sector ahead of the Budget on 27 October. They’ve demanded a freeze on alcohol rates and a cut in business rates for pubs recovering from the pandemic.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “If the government is serious about levelling up, it must get serious about reducing the tax burdens on our sector.
“Investing in our brewers and pubs is investing in our communities and society to build back better. In return we will create jobs, boost the local economy and help our communities reconnect and unite again.
A new report published by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank urged Mr Sunak to avoid raising alcohol duties as the UK is facing a “cost of living crisis” brought on by inflation, rising energy prices and withdrawal of universal credit.
The Independent approached the treasury for comment.