Cost of Living: CAMRA boss says duty cuts needed to save UK pubs as new energy support confirmed

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Businesses will have less support for energy bills from April

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has said that reforms to business rates will be needed to save pubs. This comes as it was confirmed hospitality businesses will continue to receive energy bill support but at a lower rate from April 1.

The changes to the energy bill support for businesses was expected by many in the industry. This was confirmed earlier this week by the government.  The new scheme will mean all eligible UK businesses and other non-domestic energy users will receive a discount on high energy bills until March 31, 2024.

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This will, according to the UK government, help businesses locked into contracts signed before recent substantial falls in the wholesale price manage their costs and provide others with reassurance against the risk of prices rising again.

The chairman of CAMRA Nik Antona believes that the change to business rates as well as duty cuts are needed to save the nation’s pubs and breweries following the news. Mr Antona gave the comment following the government confirmation.

He said: “The prospect of energy bills soaring in April as other costs keep rising and consumers tighten their belts will leave the nation’s pubs, social clubs, brewers and cider producers apprehensive about how they can continue to make ends meet.

“While we want to see energy support reinstated at current levels, it is now vital that the chancellor uses his Budget in March to announce a wider support package if our pubs are to survive and thrive. This must include proper reforms to fix the unfair burden of business rates and introducing the new lower rate of duty charged on draught beer and cider at 20% below the general duty rate. This would help keep pub-going affordable for customers and give our locals a fighting chance against the likes of cheaper supermarket alcohol.”

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Following the announcement of the new energy bill support for businesses, the chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: “My top priority is tackling the rising cost of living – something that both families and businesses are struggling with. That means taking difficult decisions to bring down inflation while giving as much support to families and business as we are able.

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“Wholesale energy prices are falling and have now gone back to levels just before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But to provide reassurance against the risk of prices rising again we are launching the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, giving businesses the certainty they need to plan ahead.”

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