Trade body the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) is calling on Ofgem, the regulator for gas and electricity markets in Great Britain, to hold to account energy providers that refuse to supply energy to families living in pubs.
In thousands of pubs across the UK, it is quite typical for the landlord or landlady that runs the pub to also live in it with family. However, a number of pubs across the UK have experienced poor commercial behaviour whereby some utility companies were refusing to renew contracts or simply to supply energy to them, according to BBPA, even where such supply includes domestic use.
The BBPA also says that where new contracts are being negotiated, they typically remain subject to punitive, out of contract rates with renegotiations lasting for weeks or months.
“Publicans have already suffered enough through this pandemic. The last thing they need is energy companies refusing to supply them or renew contracts,” says BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin.
“The regulations are clear that energy suppliers are obliged to provide domestic energy to a pub when it is lived in. Considering so many families live in pubs, Ofgem must really do the right thing and ensure these unfair behaviour is ended.
“It’s time for energy companies to show support for the sector through fair dealing.”
McClarkin’s comments have been echoed by pub groups, including Admiral Taverns. “Ofgem have been keen to hear about the experiences of licensees and explain the work they are doing with supply. However, I was disappointed in Ofgem’s and the Energy Minister’s unwillingness to tackle the poor commercial behaviour demonstrated by many utility companies towards small hospitality businesses,” says chief executive Chris Jowsey.
“Many pubs are also the family home, and refusing to supply energy to families already hit hard by the pandemic is simply unacceptable.”
The BBPA has met with Ofgem, which has agreed to investigate further, but says it remains concerned that publicans seeking to renew or secure energy contracts will continue to experience refusals to supply, or be forced to pay inflated fees, increasing their risk and reducing their options in terms of securing competitive rates for energy supply.