Hospitality Blues.

For months now, prices of many staple items have been creeping up. Even in budget supermarkets, price points have been breached and the number of “round pound” items has been steadily decreasing.


Yesterday, the predicted huge energy increases hit home, with a goodly number of utility company websites crashing under the weight of customers eager to record their meter readings to avoid being charged the higher rate on any previously used supply. Scottish Power claimed to have increased bandwidth by 500%, yet their site still couldn’t cope.


Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, the price of a pint is going up in many of the country’s pubs. Not by the 2p or 3p either, which always used to cause major uproar. Marstons announced they have put prices up by between 20p and 45p. Even Wetherspoons, renowned for competitive prices, added 10p to average pint, with double that being applied to London pubs.


For the licensed industry the power increases are acute, for it’s not just heating and lighting that affect their costs because, real ales apart, every pint is pumped and chilled electrically.


Of course, the Chancellor’s answer should have been to simply ease the burden of green levies on power bills. It was something that could have been done at the touch of a button, but instead, Rishi Sunak has added still more pages to the largest and most complicated tax system in the world. Yet more fiscal churning, with money taken by one arm of the HMRC and given back through another channel.


The temporary Business Rate relief for hospitality businesses will be welcomed by desperate tenants, but nowhere near as welcome as a straightforward tax cut, not limited by a time frame would have been. So don’t blame the landlord for the next shockingly expensive drink, served by bar staff who have just received a 6.6% rise in minimum wage, target your annoyance at the government.


For swirling around in your next pint is a lethal mixture of the green levy and VAT on fuel, topped up by alcohol duty and further VAT, recently increased from 12.5% to 20%, on your beer. A heady brew indeed.


Martin Day – Party Secretary


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