Pubs using candles and switching off lights to try and lower ‘extortionate’ electricity bills
The owners of two pubs have gone ‘back in time’ by turning off the lights and serving customers by candlelight to combat ‘excessive’ energy bills.
They called yesterday’s announcement of Liz Truss’ utility bill to cut operating costs in half “too little too late” as the charges threaten to close pubs and businesses for good.
While skyrocketing gas and electricity bills have been tough on household customers, businesses don’t have the same price caps as homes, so their bills could run even higher.
The Masons Arms in Camelford, Cornwall is now purely candlelit every Monday, with all light switches turned off.
The Thomas Daniell pub in Truro does the same for a day in October. The gastropub also recently had to close on Mondays and Tuesdays every week since electricity bills began to climb.
Alan Woods, who has run the Masons Arms for just over four years, said the move was to combat the “excessive” price of electricity that could cripple the company while also creating a new atmosphere.
Mr Woods said things got ‘crazy’ once Britain appeared on the other side of most of the Covid restrictions.
A month before the pandemic hit, in March 2020, Mr Woods said his electricity bill was around £1,000 a month. His last bill was just under £4,000.
The Masons Arms (pictured) in Camelford, Cornwall is now pure candlelight on Monday, with all light switches turned off
Jamie Hilton-Lavender (pictured), manager of The Thomas Daniell, said the candlelit evening is a way to offer customers something different while curbing exploding utility bills.
“We had those few months where things were going well and the pub was alive,” he said. “Then we had our energy bill and it went mentally – how did it go so crazy?
“We’re all in the same boat as small businesses. There’s only so much you can do to help.
‘People are all looking at strategies, closing their doors a few days a week or even permanently. Next October we will see what the increases are, but it doesn’t look good.’
He said, ‘We go back to 1753, the year The Masons Arms opened.
“It was known as The Kings Arms.
‘Travel back in time where the pub will be lit up by candlelight all the time, our regular menu and our autumn menu will also be running.
“It also allows us to reduce our excessive electricity bill and give you a unique evening.”
Mr Woods said he hopes it will save some money and help people remember that small local businesses suffer just like individuals.
Jamie Hilton-Lavender, manager of The Thomas Daniell, said the candlelit evening is a way to offer customers something different while curbing exploding utility bills.
He went one step further and turned off the power completely. On October 4, the lights, cash registers and everything in between will go out.
“Everyone struggles with the cost of living,” said Mr Hilton-Lavender.
‘It’s getting out of hand.’
What your pub outing could soon look like. Pictured: People sit in a candlelit pub because of South Africa’s struggling Eskom electric utility.
He said The Thomas Daniell has been closing on Mondays and Tuesdays every week lately.
This decision was made after electricity bills started to rise.
He added: “There’s only so much extra you can charge your customers to get in, some of the cost is up to you.”
Mr Woods said pubs like him face impossible decisions about the company’s future.
Operating costs are forcing many to close early, scrap menu items, or even lay off staff.
How the price cap works
The government will pass emergency legislation to support the new emergency relief scheme once parliament returns from its break from party conferences in October.
For customers with fixed price contracts, if the wholesale element is above the new government cap, the unit price is automatically reduced for the duration of the settlement.
Customers with standard, assumed or variable rates will receive a discount per unit up to the difference between the government rate and the average wholesale price over the period – the maximum discount is expected to be around £405 per MWh for electricity and £115 per MWh for gas .
For customers with flexible purchasing contracts, usually those with the highest energy needs, the discount level is calculated by suppliers, with the same maximum discount.
A parallel scheme will be set up in Northern Ireland.
The government gave the example of a cafe that consumes 4 MWh of electricity and 16 MWh of gas per month:
- They signed a permanent contract in August 2022, leaving them with a current monthly utility bill of around £7,000. At the time of signing their contact, wholesale prices were expected to exceed the government-supported price of £211/MWh for electricity and £75/MWh for gas for the next six months, meaning they could support receive under this scheme.
- The difference between the expected wholesale prices when they signed their contract and the government backed price is worth £380/MWh for electricity and £100/MWh for gas, meaning they get a discount of £3,100 per month, reducing their bill. by more than 40 per month. cent.
For Mr Woods the issue is particularly problematic as he lives above the pub with his family of five.
He continued: ‘It’s strange, we’ve always argued that the bit above is different, but energy companies don’t differentiate.
“So for our family we always get business rates in the evenings.
“In general, it is worrying for everyone.
“We just have to keep going, because everyone is having a hard time, everyone is watching their money.”
Yesterday, the government announced that energy bills for UK businesses will be cut by about half the expected level as part of a major bailout package. From 1 October, the scheme will fix wholesale prices for gas and electricity for six months.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said yesterday that the energy support “will be a lifeline for many pubs and brewers this winter.”
But she added: “While this announcement has helped companies breathe a first sigh of relief as they enter this critical period, more support is needed to tackle the cost of doing business and we need a plan for the coming years.” six months.
“Our industry is one of the few to support jobs and livelihoods in every part of the UK, and we have the potential to deliver growth in every community we serve.
“Friday, the Chancellor must take steps to tackle the cost of doing business, by reducing the tax burden on our industry, so that pubs and brewers can not only survive this winter, but also be at the heart of local economies and their communities.” stay. many more years to come.’
Melissa Evans, 47, who has been in the industry for 21 years and the last three and a half landlady, said last month that the price hikes are beyond laughable and recently had to close at 9 p.m. due to high utility bills.
She said her pub, The Plow, in Whitstable, Kent, has seen utility bills skyrocket in recent months.
Her original business plan, when she took on the pub, predicted electricity and gas bills of £8,000 a year, which she described as ‘amusing’ in retrospect.
“I’m now looking at £33,000 just for gas and I now need to work that into my business without affecting my staff and customers,” she said.
Prime Minister Liz Truss announced that from October there will be a ceiling that will halve wholesale costs until March next year at the earliest. It will also be applied retroactively to contracts agreed on or after April.
With pubs at risk of charging over £10 for a pint, Ye Olde Fleece Inn in Kendal’s annual electricity bill, dating back to 1654, has risen by £80,000.
The much-loved historic pub currently pays £44,000 on its annual electricity bill, but was charged £124,000 last week for the 12 months from Christmas.
“It’s absolutely terrible,” Chris Moss, director of Westmorland Hospitality, which runs the Fleece, told MailOnline in August.
“The government needs to get a grip on this, otherwise we risk losing the British pub for good.”
“We have to make that decision. Are they going to intervene? or do we just go ahead and say the pub won’t be there anymore?’
He said that while they had expected their account to rise, they were so shocked at how much it had risen that they had to check with their broker, adding that it has “probably gone up again since then.”