More than half a million pub staff across the UK could face losing their jobs over the winter if the government does not act urgently to support businesses with soaring operator costs, warns Night-Time Economy Advisor for Manchester, Sacha Lord.
Mr Lord, who has also requested an urgent meeting with chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to discuss the situation, said the costs crisis was “catastrophic” and a bigger issue than what the hospitality sector faced during the pandemic, adding that the whole situation was “avoidable”.
He said it was predicted that more than 619,000 jobs could be lost within the UK pub sector, with 271,000 of these positions filled by people under the age of 25, an increase of 63 per cent for that age compared to the ONS figures for June this year.
Speaking in an interview with The News Agents podcast, he said: “We are in a far worse position now than we were during the pandemic.
“This is not a political tit for tat or anything because what they [the government] did was fantastic during the lockdown, but hospitality is bigger than politics. We’re the fifth biggest industry in the whole of the UK.”
The fresh calls for support follow warnings that up to seven out of ten pubs could close over the winter due to rising operator costs and energy bills, and letters sent to the government and PM contenders Lizz Truss and Rishi Sunak by various hospitality operators and trade bodies calling for urgent support for the sector as energy bills continue to soar, with no price cap currently in place for businesses.
Mr Lord, who is also chair of the Night Time Industries Association, also wrote on his Twitter page: “The next three weeks for hospitality, are the most important three weeks for the sector, in my lifetime. We’ve put forward our case and lobbied hard for a VAT reduction, business rates relief, energy freeze/cap. Over to the new PM.”
Lizz Truss has been announced as the new Prime Minister this morning, beating contender Rishi Sunak by a large vote margin to become Conservative Party leader.
Meanwhile, the German government has announced a €65 billion package to support consumers and businesses with the rising cost of energy, with newly-elected PM Liz Truss saying before the election result that this sort of option could not be ruled out for the UK.
More than 6,000 letters have now also been sent to MPs from night time economy and hospitality businesses, demanding an emergency support package as the industry fights for survival, the NTIA said.
One pub operator, Andrew Parker, central operations director at the 1,600-strong pub group, Admiral Taverns, took to Twitter to post a picture of a letter he had received from its utilities provider, BES Utilities, stating that the company has “no choice but to increase your prices” from October, also offering the termination of his contract as a “gesture of goodwill”.
In the post, he wrote: “So now, @BESUtilitiesUK can just rip up contracts pubs have entered into claiming T’s & C’s of contract. So even if you thought your prices were secure they are not.”