Northern Ireland pubs and restaurants join plea for government action as costs soar

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​UK pubs, bars and restaurants revealed their average bills have surged 81% over the past year as firms make further pleas to the Government for support.

Industry bodies have revealed that less than a third of hospitality businesses are optimistic about their future after swallowing mammoth energy price increases, as well as more expensive food and wage bills.

Data collected by CGA by NielsenIQ on behalf of the British Institute of Innkeeping, UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association and Hospitality Ulster revealed the extent of the current turmoil facing the industry.

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The research showed that 29% of hospitality businesses said they feel optimistic about the next 12 months.

Pubs and restaurants in plea for helpPubs and restaurants in plea for help
Pubs and restaurants in plea for help

Business owners said they are particularly concerned about energy costs, with 86% of firms saying it was a worry.

It comes around a year since energy bills rocketed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine sparked a sharp uptick in gas prices.

As a result, many firms were forced into long-term fixed-rate contracts last year which have weighed on profitability and resulted in closures.

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Last month, analysis of official Government data by the commercial real estate specialist Altus Group found more than 150 pubs have disappeared for good from English and Welsh communities over the first three months of 2023, representing a 60% jump on levels from last year.

The trade bodies have joined forces to warn that more venues will shut for good if cost pressures do not ease soon.

In a joint statement, the organisations said: "The energy crisis has been pushing pubs, bars and restaurants to breaking point for a year now.

"The Energy Bill Relief Scheme provided a short respite but with that falling away last month businesses are back to paying high costs, with no end in sight for the thousands locked into contracts who will be obligated to pay extortionate rates well into next year.

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"Put simply, this data is extremely worrying for thousands of otherwise viable hospitality businesses.

"No profits means nothing to invest back into businesses, no cash reserves means nothing to fall back on, and businesses being forced to close means important, irreplaceable assets being lost from local communities and economies across the country forever.

"The Government must recognise this crisis isn't just crippling businesses now.

"Left unresolved it will have a lasting wider impact long into the future, impacting local employment, supply chains and removing essential community hubs from villages, towns and cities across the whole of the UK."