Pubs and restaurants will close this winter after the government added to their problems by canceling plans to freeze alcohol duties, it is claimed.
The freeze was part of the government’s small budget in September but has been scrapped as one of a host of U-turns after chaos in the markets.
Kris Gumbrell, chief executive of the Bournemouth-based Brewhouse & Kitchen chain, said: “It’s very disappointing. The closure of pubs and breweries is accelerating.
“The support was important to the trade in one sense but in the light of the costs that affect hospitality, it was a small help, but still important.”
He pointed to the fact that Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer had promised to look at reforming business rates, which Mr Gumbrell said could make things “much fairer” for the industry.
“Pubs and restaurants will be closing this winter,” he said.
Phil Hoyle, landlord of a London pub in Poulner, Ringwood, said: “The one thing from Kwasi Kwarteng’s budget that might have encouraged customers was the cancellation of the proposed increase in duty rates for beer, cider, wine and spirits.
“Now that has been reversed, pubs and all hospitality businesses face an even tougher winter.
“Not only will prices rise, but there is still a cost of living crisis and mortgage rates are rising.
“The first thing people do when things get tight is to go out and pubs will suffer. Pubs are not just businesses, they are central to the communities they serve.
“We raise money for charity, help local people and support each other when we can.
“If people stop coming to the pub it’s not just business that will be damaged, but the whole community.”
Alcohol tax is expected to rise in line with the Retail Price Index inflation measure of 12.3 per cent in August. The move is expected to save the government around £600 million a year.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, has called the U-turn a “huge blow” for brewers and pubs.
New chancellor Jeremy Hunt told MPs when he announced the U-turn: “We will finalize the decisions on what we are going to do in terms of overall excise duty reform as quickly as we can, but for now I’m afraid of that difficult decision. I have announced stalls today and we will not be able to proceed with the freeze from next February.”