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16th December 2022

Pubs providing vital warm spaces in freezing weather but under threat from unfair energy contracts

As temperatures plummet pubs across the country are providing vital warm spaces for local communities; offering free tea and coffee, group activities or simply a place to sit out of the cold but are still being hit by extortionate costs due to energy suppliers adding hidden charges to contracts and are under serious threat of closure as a result, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has said.

In a letter to energy regulator Ofgem dated today (15 December 2022), the BBPA highlighted numerous cases of energy suppliers increasing elements of energy bills that are outside of the remit of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) such as standing charges, installation fees and other hidden non-commodity costs.

The letter comes as UK temperatures plummet and pubs across the country have continually stepped forward to provide vital safe, warm and welcoming spaces for their communities, often at no cost, as local people struggle to afford to heat their homes.

Gemma Gardener who runs The York in Morecambe said:
“We are proud to offer a warm space for our community, we want people to feel welcome here and we offer free meals for school children because we know there are families in our area that are really struggling at the moment.

“But we’re also facing tough times ourselves, not only have our energy bills extortionate, but our supplier has also added on extra unexpected charges outside of our standard rates, from a £2k 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. Not knowing what we’ll be charged month on month is incredibly scary, this isn’t only our business but our home but we’re at the mercy of our energy suppliers.”

In Newhall Swadlincote, Derbyshire, The Lamb run by Becky Barnett, is one of many pubs across the country that have started free coffee mornings to offer local people, particularly those who are isolated, live alone or are older to come somewhere social and warm for a couple of hours. Becky said:

“For over a month we’ve been supporting a local community initiative offering free food and drinks to local people on Wednesday mornings. People can come into the pub, have a free hot meal, sit by our log fire in comfy chairs, no questions asked.

“When times are tough, and they certainly are right now, we want to be a place where people can come for help and local people have been incredibly grateful of us opening our doors at no cost. At the same time, we’ve also seen our energy costs double in the last few months and it’s a scary time for our business as well, we want to continue to provide a non-judgemental warm space for people but we’re facing our own rising costs.”

The BBPA is  also calling on the Government to provide urgent clarity and certainty that an extension to the EBRS will be applied for pubs and breweries beyond March 31st. Recently released data showing energy costs were set to completely wipe out profits for many pub and brewing businesses if the scheme wasn’t extended.

The letter to Ofgem follows an earlier intervention by the regulator that sought to stop bad practice by suppliers, this most recent letter from the BBPA states ‘we are still seeing reports from our members that suggest your warning has not been heeded.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said:

“In times of need, pubs play an absolutely vital role in many communities across the country. In places where other local services have shut, the pub is often the last remaining space that is open to and welcomes everyone, a crucial thread in the social fabric of our society.

“As we face an extreme cost of living crisis and freezing temperatures, our industry is doing what it does best, providing warm and welcoming spaces for those who need it most. But we are at breaking point. Pubs want to keep their doors open for local people, but energy costs are continuing to cripple them.

“Unfair hidden charges mean that the Energy Bill Relief Scheme designed to save their businesses from failure, is doing little to help. We urgently need Ofgem and the Government to take a serious look at these practices and guarantee that costs can be brought down both now and throughout 2023, otherwise we will lose these vital hubs that mean so much to so many.”


The letter can be read here.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Jessie Powell at / 020 7627 9199

Notes to editors: 

About the British Beer & Pub Association
The BBPA represents UK companies which between them brew over 90% of the beer sold in the UK and own 20,000 pubs.

Our members include international companies, national and local brewers and pub businesses operating managed and tenanted pubs in cities, towns and villages across the country.

These businesses are at the heart of communities and local economies and include family businesses who have been brewing beer and running pubs for hundreds of years alongside emerging brewers and pub operators.

  • The UK’s beer and pub industry supports close to 940,000 jobs
  • The industry adds £26.2billion to the UK’s economy each year


Press release from the BBPA.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Jessie Powell at / 020 7627 9199 .