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Hospitality: who has the energy? - Ed’s letter

The end of the summer holidays is meant to see us bouncing back into work revived and ready to tackle the run into the busy festive season with vim and vigour. However, a summer where the choice was queueing at passport control for hours or dodging effluent off the UK’s beaches does not a restful break make.

And there has been plenty to keep us away from our beauty sleep. Inflation, energy bills, strikes in multiple forms. It’s all enough to make you want to give up on hospitality and get into, well, dog grooming?

The immediate issue - campaigns for VAT reduction and the like aside - is the astounding increase in energy prices, which is being sold as unavoidable and largely blamed on the war in Ukraine. While many scratch their heads and wonder why something described as a price ‘cap’ doesn’t seem to include any actual capping, they are distracted from seeing the efforts being taken by other countries to do something to ensure that bills can be paid.

In the UK, the ‘effort’ part of the equation is being taken up by the ruling party doing what they like to do every couple of years: choosing a new leader. This appears to take a while and features the two main candidates on a downward spiral of increasingly deranged plans, but no specifics.

In the meantime, groups including UKHospitality, the BBPA and the Night Time Industries Association have written to the government suggesting that some kind of plan might be in order, this being what governments get paid for.

The letter pointed out: “Hospitality operators face average annual bill increases in excess of 300%, putting at risk businesses and jobs. It is also increasingly clear that a significant number of energy providers have withdrawn service provision from the hospitality market altogether.”

These are desperately stressful times. And, as in the pandemic, businesses are at risk through no fault of their own.

The only consolation is that something HAS to be done and surely will be. The sector must have faith that it will not be allowed to collapse and that, once a leader is chosen, a plan will be enacted. There is not much to base this faith on other than the fact that it has to happen. Should it not, could the sector could find itself following barristers, rail employees, Royal Mail employees, port workers and potentially nurses and consider withdrawing its labour? Not such a fun Christmas awaits.


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