Pub owner ‘would have to charge £16 a pint’ to cover soaring energy bills

·2-min read

The owner of a pub in Yorkshire has warned he would have to charge his customers £16 per pint to cover the cost of his energy bills.

Last week Ofgem, the UK’s energy regulator, announced that it would be raising the price cap to £3,549 from 1 October, marking a sharp 80 per cent rise in the cost of energy.

As the Ofgem price cap is designed to protect consumers and not businesses, it means some establishments may see their bills rise to upwards of £4,000 a month.

Stephen Hey, the landlord of The Wickenham Arms Hotel in Cleckheaton, said his bills are expected to rise by 500 per cent to £50,000 a year.

Without financial help from the government, Hey fears he may be forced to close.

“£1,000 a month is affordable but £1,000 a week is not. You can’t push that rise onto the customers, if I was to do that, I would be charging £16 a pint,” Hey said.

“By next year, the costs may come down but it will be too late. Local pubs can simply not compete with the Wetherspoons and Lloyds. It will soon be a monopoly.”

Hey, who has worked in the industry for 48 years, said he had “never seen anything like this”, and that energy prices are making his business unsustainable.

Stephen Hey runs The Wickenham Arms Hotel (Bradford Telegraph Argus / SWNS)
Stephen Hey runs The Wickenham Arms Hotel (Bradford Telegraph Argus / SWNS)

“We cannot plan for anything. 12 of my staff could be without a job because of my electric bills going up,” Hey said.

“I go to sleep every night afraid and I wake up every morning afraid. This crisis is far more urgent than the government is aware of.

“We’re frustrated and helpless because no one in power understands our predicament.”

Kim Leadbeater, the local Labour MP for Batley and Spen, said she fears the rocketing costs could have a massive impact on people’s mental health.

“From the messages I receive and all the conversations I have had it is clear that local people and businesses are facing an unprecedented crisis,” Leadbeater commented.

“Businesses like pubs are not just significant employers, they serve a really important social purpose. I met some fantastic women at the Wickham Arms who told me their weekly bridge club sessions there are often the only contact they have with other people.

“These places are the glue that hold our communities together.”