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25th January 2023

Trade body calls for an urgent inquiry into poor conduct by energy suppliers

BBPA calls on Chairs of Treasury and Business Select Committees to conduct an urgent inquiry into worrying reports of poor conduct from energy suppliers.

The British Beer and Pub Association has today written to Harriett Baldwin MP and Darren Jones MP, Chairs of the Treasury and Business Select Committee respectively, to urge them to convene an immediate inquiry into the energy sector and potential instances of profiteering.

Introduced in October, the Government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme was intended to bring down energy costs for millions of businesses but has since had little positive impact for the brewing and pub sector. The trade body is reporting countless examples of price hikes and poor practice which in many cases have meant the impact of Government support is effectively nil, and has led to suspicions of profiteering on the back of taxpayers’ money.

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 BBPA has written to the energy regulator Ofgem which is investigating the claims, but says there is a need for action immediately to prevent what is already becoming the number one cause of business failure in the sector. The BBPA is calling on MPs in Westminster to demand an explanation from energy suppliers for the current state of the market. It is also essential that the recent reduction in wholesale prices is reflected in energy bills quickly.

Gemma Gardener who runs The York in Morecambe said:
Not only have our energy bills been 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 and we’re at the mercy of our energy suppliers.”

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

“The spiralling cost of energy has been our members’ number one concern for close to a year now and remains so. Now, multiple reports of poor practice have compelled us to speak up on behalf of suffering businesses and make this urgent call.

“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.”


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

Notes to editors: 

Examples of poor practice stated in the letter include:

  • A number of suppliers flat out refusing to take on pub businesses at all, citing increased risk of failure and non-payment. This is largely as a consequence of pubs being forced to close during the pandemic, and not due to systemic issues with pub businesses as a whole.
  • Suppliers requiring eye-wateringly high and wholly disproportionate up-front security deposits – sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands of pounds, in order to contract with a single business. These are figures that pubs simply cannot afford.
  • Discriminatory practices, including tougher and in some cases simply draconian terms and conditions.
  • Since the introduction of the EBRS, vastly inflated non-commodity costs on bills, which ultimately led to a complete negation of the impact of the scheme. In many cases the bills are so opaque that it is impossible to establish what exactly these non-commodity costs are applied to account for.

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 releasde from the BBPA.

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