Would you like to pay £27.50 for a pint of Punk IPA?

Nope, I didn’t think so. But that’s how much you’d be paying in BrewDog York, for example, if we’d put up prices in line with our soaring energy bills.

Or how about £48.75 for a burger and fries?

Businesses all over the UK are facing the crippling combination of the worst cost inflation for decades and squeezed consumer spending power. Jeremy Hunt will make the situation worse when he rows back support for business energy bills from April. We’re only in the foothills of a crisis which poses a far bigger threat to companies than C-19.

The sad reality is that there are many great businesses that simply will not survive 2023.

This climate is incredibly challenging for BrewDog. Fortunately, we have the scale and backing to survive. Many smaller businesses aren’t so lucky.

The Government threw the kitchen sink at Covid but unless it acts quickly tens of thousands of businesses vital to employment and our economy will wither and die.

People inside government KNOW this. Not all of them are career politicians who’ve never done a day’s work in the ‘real world’ of business.

This government has no plan, no ambition. People talk about a lack of industrial strategy. It’s far worse than that. There is no strategy full stop.

Why would anyone start a business in the UK today? I’ve seen more breweries, bars and restaurants than I can name go out of business in the past few months and that trend is only going to accelerate.

Industry experts estimate that up to 70% of the UK’s bars, pubs and restaurants could be forced to close. Every one that fails is an arrow in the heart of the sector.

Here’s my starter for ten on what I would do if I were currently in government:

  • 1) Business rates. Cut them in half for a year, or better still scrap them altogether? Business rates are antiquated, and we need a review anyway.
  • 2) Tax policy in general has been a farce. The Government put up National Insurance in April, then cut it again in November. It needs to be cut further still – the employer’s contribution in particular is literally a tax on hiring and growth.
  • 3) VAT holiday for hospitality for a year. Everybody will be cutting back on budgets but every little helps. Pubs and bars like ours are vital parts of a community and we need to protect them.
  • 4) Get a grip on strikes. Cut a deal rather than trying to ban strikes. The knock on effect for hospitality from the rail walkouts came at exactly the wrong time. The strikes in December alone cost our business over £1m.
  • 5) State-backed loans to protect the really small guys who could disappear completely? with repayments starting in 12 months’ time.

If this means spending a bit more money to support business through this nightmare now, it’s better than spending the money on unemployment benefits if thousands of businesses go under.

Without more help, we’re sleep-walking towards utter disaster for the tens of thousands of businesses in the UK.

This blog was first posted on LinkedIn. Click here to read the full post.