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Derbyshire publican fearful as energy bill goes up by £4,500 per month

today10 September 2022 1

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A Derbyshire publican has deep fears for his pub and the industry as a whole as he faces energy bills rocketing from £1,500 to £6,000 each month. 57-year-old Dave Mountford has run The Boat pub, in Cromford, for 10 years and has described to us how the lack of financial support and excessive price increases by the energy companies are leading pubs to the grave.

With energy bills and the overall cost of living swallowing businesses whole, publicans are frantically on edge. For most people, explains Dave, whatever measures are introduced will be too little, too late, with over 10,000 pubs having to shut their doors for good, as a knock-on effect of the Covid lockdowns.

Dave has aired his frustrations with both the energy companies and the government for being “completely out of touch” with business owners and the public alike.

READ MORE: Martin Lewis’ verdict on leaked Liz Truss energy price freeze plan

Speaking to Derbyshire Live on his current energy battle, Dave said: “We have three different meters and our electricity agreement with Scottish Power has just finished and so I’ve been shopping around for a cheaper price.

“It’s been our first month with a new supplier EDF as it’s the cheapest quote, but I had to work incredibly hard to get the lowest quote and it’s still not enough. I’m a well-known campaigner in the country and I spent most of the lockdown fighting for the rights of publicans.

“To put it into perspective, it cost £1,000 a month to run the pub when it was closed even when everything was turned off.

“There was a total and complete lack of knowledge during that time. When Rishi Sunak was on the Andrew Marr show he stated that the furlough and support offered to pubs was good enough as the average rent was £16-20k a year. This categorically just isn’t true. Having worked with the government for the last 10 years, it’s clear they have no idea how publicans work and no concept of how the business operates.

“Outside of London, on average it’s around £54k and within London, it’s closer to £110k. That just goes to show how out of touch the people at the top are. Financial support and grants went straight in and straight out.

“I knew the bill would go through the roof but you really have no idea until it comes through and hits you. From our expectations we thought it would go to about double and yet it’s gone way past that.”

Dave told us that his bill has gone up from £1,500 to around £6,000.

“It’s completely unsustainable. We’re lucky I’ve been here for 10 years so we have a fair rent, however not all pubs have that luxury.

“We came out of lockdown in a vast amount of debt, so we’ve had to rely on using bounceback loans and now we’re hit with this. We’re lucky that our gas isn’t changing for another 18 months but some people will be hit with all the factors at once and will have no choice but to close.

“People aren’t coming out as they are having the exact same financial struggles at home and so how do they expect the hospitality industry to carry on? This pub, like many others, is such an important space for the community. It’s the hub of the village and has a fantastic success story. People have told me that they moved to the village and the pub has been one of the factors in moving, so it really does affect the whole area.



Dave Mountford says 'It's unsustainable'
Dave Mountford says ‘It’s unsustainable’

When asking Dave about what he’s done to help tackle the costs, he said: “We are having to make sensible business changes, in terms of management of our energy consumption. We’re also talking about stopping food between 3pm and 6pm so that we can switch off the equipment, but heating it up uses the same as having it on for three hours so we’re still trying to work it out.

“We’ve changed as many switches as we can in the pub to be timed switches and we’ve had to take things off the menu like paninis and other grilled products so that we don’t have that machine running. Anything we can do to lower our electricity is being considered. These are changes we’ve implemented over the last six months and they’ve barely made a dent.”

“I asked Dave if there are any drastic measures he’s considered and he said: “As a final last resort and I can’t stress enough that it’s a last resort for us, we’d have to put upwards of 20p a pint, and £1 for food. Usually, pint prices increase by three to four pence over a huge period of time, and now publicans are being forced to charge almost a fiver. A fiver for a pint! I wouldn’t even expect that in London, it’s just not sustainable. Who would pay for that?!

“I’ve been the owner for 10 years and this pub opened in 1772, it’s vital to the community.”

I asked Dave what he would want to be announced tomorrow and he said: “Realistically, an immediate reduction of VAT to 5% as a minimum, financial support in the form of grants to get people through the current crisis and some form of a cash injection.

“I had £4,500 worth of credit in Scottish Power and they kept it for three-and-a-half months to ‘give them time to close the account’ how do you expect me to run a business with a phone stuck to my ear for an hour and a half.”

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