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Catch up with the latest developments involving BII licensee support, taking member statistics to the heart of Government, and interviews with CEO Steven Alton.

Trade bodies representing pubs and hospitality businesses call for urgent Government intervention on unfair energy costs and contracts

Since the beginning of the energy crisis, members of the trade organisations have faced a raft of business-critical challenges, with 50% being forced into contracts between July and December 2022, in an uncompetitive market when energy prices were at their highest. 

Hospitality trade bodies, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), UKHospitality (UKH) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) have today written to Amanda Solloway MP, the Minister for Energy Consumers and Affordability, calling for urgent Government support for hospitality businesses on the brink of collapse.

Ofgem, the industry regulator has investigated evidence from hundreds of pubs and hospitality businesses, showing the unfair nature and length of contracts, sky high standing charges and management fees, and aggressive sales tactics by some energy suppliers, but the action taken so far has been too little, and for many will be far too late.

A spokesperson for the trade bodies stated:

“Following any meaningful Government support tailing off at the end of March, operators now face bills between three and four times higher than in 2021, locked into contracts that are destroying their otherwise viable and vibrant businesses.

“We have been engaging with Government Ministers and officials, as well as Ofgem, for over a year now, sharing the often-immoral behaviour of energy suppliers, whose actions have plunged pubs and hospitality businesses into debt and uncertainty. Domestic customers have been protected to some extent, but small businesses supporting families and communities have been left exposed to untenable costs and contracts, threatening livelihoods the length and breadth of the UK.

“Ofgem’s limited powers leave it unable to intervene in contracts between these suppliers and hospitality businesses. We are calling urgently on Government to step in and take action to save essential community hubs and thousands of jobs from being lost forever.”

View the letter

Pubs are at the heart of every community, powering growth and accessible employment

The BII has today written to the Chancellor, calling for further support for its members ahead of the Spring Statement in March.
Results from a recent joint survey of BII, UKH, BBPA and Hospitality Ulster members, revealed the ongoing fragility of pub businesses, with half of BII respondents at risk of failure in the next 12 months, 43% not making a profit and 1 in 3 having no cash reserves.

The pressure from soaring inflation and ever rising costs across their businesses over the past year has seen pubs forced to make major changes to their trading, further damaging their vital recovery, with 60% reducing opening times and 1 in 3 reducing opening days to mitigate the significant rise in energy particularly.

Steve Alton, BII CEO commented:
“Our nations pubs have been devastated by the huge inflationary rises across all areas of their businesses and in particular energy costs ,which now represents the biggest single threat to their survival. 50% of respondents to the joint survey have had to renew their energy contracts in the last 6 months of 2022, at a time of when prices were unfairly high in a non-competitive market. 

“It is vital that our pubs are recognised as the essential businesses that they are, at the heart of their communities, providing not just tangible social value, but also skilled and flexible local employment. We offer employment opportunities that are open to all with the ability to deliver essential business skills, to build skilled jobs and careers, in our sector and beyond. They need and deserve support and investment, and without it we will see widespread business failure on a huge scale.

“We are calling on the Chancellor to provide that support with a sector specific reduction in VAT and a long term business rate reform through a reduction in the rates multiplier for our sector, recognising our unique social value in every community. We are also asking for Government to deliver fair and reasonable energy costs for pubs and an ability to re-contract poor and unfair energy deals secured in 2022.

“These measures, alongside an enhanced draught duty reduction for beer served in pubs with full delivery of the Alcohol Duty Reform including a freeze in beer duty, would ensure our members and the wider hospitality sector can deliver the growth, employment and social value needed in towns and cities across the UK.”

Read the letter to the Chancellor here.

BII responds to the Chancellor’s autumn statement

Following the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement today, the BII has issued the following statement from CEO, Steve Alton:

“Today’s statement from the Chancellor offers little immediate comfort to our members, all of whom are facing the most challenging and critical times for their businesses.

“As small businesses at the heart of their communities, run in the main by independent operators, they are amongst the hardest hit once again.

“We welcome the news that Business rates relief for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sectors will be continued and increased to 75% for 23/24, in line with our consistent calls on Government for ongoing support in this area.

“However, energy price rises are crippling these vital and viable businesses, and whilst the current Energy Business Relief Scheme offers some support, for many, it is having a limited impact in terms of mitigating the huge cost increases they are bearing. 

“The scheme only addresses a discount on actual energy usage, and other increased costs such as management fees and standing charges mean that bills have risen in real terms by well over 200% and in some cases up to 700% in comparison to 2021.

“Our essential bricks and mortar businesses must be recognised as extremely vulnerable, and whilst we await the review of the EBRS scheme at the end of this year, we will continue to take the financial realities for our members to key Government departments, making the case for the ongoing, meaningful support that is urgently needed.

“Whilst general inflation is at an all-time high, our members have seen price rises for food, drink and other essential goods and services for their venues at a much higher level, throughout 2022. 

“In addition, our recent survey with other industry trade bodies, revealed the impact of chronic staffing shortages for BII members, with 20% vacancies over the key festive trading period, leading to 1 in 3 operators having to reduce trading hours to cope with demand. Unable to trade fully in this golden quarter, for many, they will be facing a cliff edge for their businesses come January.

“Whilst the support for those more vulnerable individuals in the form of a rise in the National Living Wage is welcome for staff, these additional, unavoidable costs for our members, without further support from Government, could be the nail in the coffin for many small businesses.

“As the public face their own cost of living crisis, pubs cannot simply pass these rapidly escalating costs through to their customers.

“Our sector stands ready to be a key part of the stability and growth that is at the heart of the Government’s strategy. As national unemployment is expected to rise to 4.9% in 2023, we can offer local employment & rapid career progression as well as huge tax revenues into the Treasury. To do this, we need ongoing, meaningful support for energy bills and wider escalating costs, alongside full reform of the outdated and unfair Business Rates system, not just short-term relief.”

Time to invest in the skilled employment powerhouses of our nation's pubs and hospitality businesses

Time to invest in the skilled employment powerhouses of our nation's pubs and hospitality businessesThe British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has today written to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, urging them to invest in our vibrant and vital sector to ensure that it can be at the heart of the economic recovery.

The letter, which comes before next week’s autumn statement, calls on the Government to recognise the fragility of pubs, but also the opportunity they represent for growth and employment for the country going forward.

CEO of the BII, Steve Alton commented:

“Times have never been tougher for our members and the wider hospitality industry, but the resilience they have shown over the past 3 years has demonstrated the immense appetite for the experience that they deliver, one that cannot be replicated anywhere else.

“Whilst they face huge challenges with rising energy costs and double-digit inflation across all areas of their businesses, they also have the power to be a key part of the economic recovery, providing thousands of jobs and career opportunities like no other sector can.

“With the right investment in these small businesses at the heart of their communities in every village, town and city, they can be a driving force for employment and rapid career growth, levelling up every area of the UK.

“They have been recognised as a unique and critical part of our communities and our economy by Government throughout the pandemic, and they now need the breathing space to be allowed to begin their own recovery, to the benefit of the entire nation.”


Read the letter here

Pubs are key to growth in every community and Government support is critical to safeguard their futures

Following the new Chancellor’s announcement earlier today, the CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), Steve Alton, has written to him, calling for the essential support that will be needed for pubs across the UK to enable them to survive the unprecedented trading challenges they are currently facing.

Steve Alton commented:

“Whilst we recognise that Government is seeking to restore stability and confidence after months of turmoil, our members are facing immediate threats to their survival. They need meaningful support, to allow them to plan their recovery and be part of the growth that the Chancellor has stated is at the centre of Government’s plans.

“We have consistently made the case to Ministers and officials in Government that our fragile sector can be at the heart of recovery through growth, but with the pandemic specific debts, waning consumer confidence and escalating cost of doing business, as well as the energy crisis, they will need targeted and immediate support to reach their full potential.

“Without it, we will see huge business failure, meaning lost income to treasury in tax and existing debt repayments, as well as lost employment and supply chain revenue on a local and national level. Most importantly, we stand to lose the social hubs of our communities across the UK at a time when people need to come together more than ever.

“Supporting pubs and wider hospitality is an investment in our villages, towns and high streets, and is one that will repaid in economic growth, employment and vital social connection, but this support, in the form of a reduced rate of VAT and cancellation of Business Rates for 23/24, is now of the utmost urgency.

“We are calling on everyone who loves the pub to get involved with our #notjustapub campaign and write to their MPs, asking for their support for our brilliant, vibrant and essential pubs at the heart of their communities.”

Read the letter to the Chancellor here.

Hospitality businesses can be at the heart of economic growth, but further support from Government will be critical to their survival

Leaders of trade bodies representing pubs, brewers, bars, restaurants, hotels and consumers have written to the Chancellor following the mini-budget last week, highlighting the urgent need for further support to safeguard hospitality businesses
In the letter to Kwasi Kwarteng, representatives from across the hospitality industry thanked the Chancellor for his support following the business energy price guarantee, as well as his recognition that energy was not the only challenge to growth.

They also recognised the positive approach he plans to take to reduce the huge burden of excessive business regulations and welcomed the freeze to alcohol duties.

They warned however, that these measures were simply not enough to safeguard the future of the sector. The combination of pandemic specific debts, minimal cash reserves, ongoing staffing issues and escalating inflationary costs across all areas for hospitality businesses, all against a backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, was having a devastating impact.

In particular, small hospitality businesses operating at the heart of every community in the UK now face the biggest threat to their survival.
In the letter, the trade associations called on the Chancellor to recognise the vulnerability of the sector by providing urgent support in two key areas:
An immediate reduction in the headline rate of VAT for hospitality on all food and drink sales
Cancellation of business rates for the remainder of this financial year

In a joint statement the industry leaders said: 
“Whilst the announcements made in the mini-budget will go some way to supporting our sector, the stark reality for many businesses is that they will still be facing energy costs of at least double those of 2021. At a time where crippling inflationary pressures across all areas of their businesses are already threatening their survival, this is not sustainable.

Targeted support for hospitality businesses at the heart of their communities in villages, towns, cities and high streets across the UK will now be critical to ensure they can play a key role in the Government’s growth and levelling up agenda.”

“We need a plan for wide-ranging support that is in place for more than six months, allowing these businesses time to plan for their futures. The current uncertainty facing hospitality businesses is a huge barrier to growth and the immediate support we are calling for will give many the breathing space they need to ensure their survival past this winter.”

Read the full letter here

BII responds to Prime Minister announcement on energy costs

Today’s announcement on the 6 month equivalent match to the domestic energy price guarantee, capping energy costs for small businesses is a welcome acknowledgement of the crippling effect of energy bills on our pubs in every community. However, it is only one element of an overall package of support that will be needed to safeguard these essential local businesses. The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) remains gravely concerned for the future survival of its members’ pub businesses.  
Steve Alton, CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) commented:
“We have left Government in no doubt about the crushing impact of energy costs on our members’ pub businesses and we are pleased that this has been specifically recognised in today’s announcement.  Beyond the impact of energy, pubs across the nation have seen their long hoped for recovery stopped in its tracks by chronic staff shortages, repaying pandemic specific debts, a crippling rise in the cost of doing business through inflationary rises and a squeeze on consumer spending, with many pubs already loss making.
“Escalating energy costs have rendered long-standing essential local businesses simply unviable.  We await the detail on how this price guarantee will be applied for our nations’ pubs and the impact that this will have on their survival. Today’s announcement looks to tackle the specific energy issue and we look forward to again working closely with Government to urgently deliver the wider package of investment that will be needed to allow our members to trade through these exceptional challenges and be at the heart of growth in our economy.”

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