UK pub body calls for parliamentary probe into 'energy profiteering'
A UK pub industry lobby group has called for a parliamentary inquiry into what it called profiteering by the energy industry at the expense of its members.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) on Tuesday said it had written to the the chairs of the cross-party Treasury and Business select committees, after hearing of excessive energy price rises that were government support measures designed to help consumers amid surging gas prices.
"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 trade body said in a statement.
It has also written to the energy regulator Ofgem, but wants "action immediately to prevent what is already becoming the number one cause of business failure in the sector".
MPs should "demand an explanation from energy suppliers for the current state of the market", while the recent reduction in wholesale prices must be reflected in energy bills soon, the BBPA added.
Gemma Gardener who runs The York in Morecambe cited "extortionate" energy costs and claimed her pub's supplier has added on extra unexpected charges outside of standard rates, "from a £2,000 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," she said
“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.”
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: "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.”
Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com