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Here you can find licensed trade news and updates, the weekly e-newsletter INNfocus, past editions of the BII News (our quarterly magazine), and hear all about our latest industry campaigns.

Energy suppliers destroying great British pubs in every community

Earlier this year, a survey of BII members revealed that 50% were forced into signing contracts at the peak of energy prices between July and December 2022. With meaningful energy support from Government falling away for the vast majority of pubs from 1st April this year, they are now facing a cliff edge of energy costs, alongside the surge in inflationary pressures in every area of their businesses.

As bricks and mortar businesses at the heart of their communities, they can only reduce their usage so much, with energy intensive kitchens & cellars, as well as the need for their bars to be warm and welcoming for their customers.

Without the ability to renegotiate contracts with suppliers that were signed in an unfair and uncompetitive market, many are facing bankruptcy, despite consumer confidence and turnovers growing in recent times. 

Adrianne Mead, licensee of the Royal Oak in Isleworth is facing energy bills of over £100k a year, after being forced to take a 12 month contract in September 2022, at the peak of energy prices.

Adrianne commented:
“We run a very successful pub, operating at the heart of the community for nearly 8 years now. We have survived through the huge challenges of the pandemic, but the threat to the survival of our business has now reached a critical level, with our energy costs tripling. At the time we signed our contract, Government had promised support for 2 years to consumers, and 6 months for businesses, and the then Prime Minister, Liz Truss, also promised business support after April 2023 ‘to vulnerable sectors, such as hospitality, including our local pubs.’

“The shortest contract available to us was for 12 months – we had no option but to sign, and we are now in a position where we are paying nearly £10,000 a month on the energy needed to keep our lights on and our kitchen open. If we were to get a contract with our supplier now as a new customer, we would only be paying £3,000 a month.

“These huge costs, delivered as part of a contract we had to sign in an unfair and uncompetitive market are now threatening the survival of our business – one that contributes a significant amount of tax into Government. More than that though, we stand to lose our home and our livelihood, whilst our community will lose a valuable and essential asset for local people. If we were allowed the option of renegotiating our contract with British Gas and YU Energy, it would save our business, but also benefit them, as if we have to close, they will lose all income from the pub.

“The stress we are feeling as a business is keeping us awake at night, putting an immense strain on our everyday lives. We have cut our usage as much as we can, but we are a warm, welcoming hub which provides so many local people with a place to escape from their own cost of living pressures, and we see it as our duty to continue to provide this.”

Steve Alton, CEO of the BII commented:
“Our members, independently running pubs in all communities, are in many cases days away from business failure, as a direct result of the unfair and unviable energy costs they are facing. These otherwise successful and essential community hubs are being forced to the brink of bankruptcy by energy suppliers, who are quite simply profiteering from vulnerable small businesses. 

“Despite the Government’s initial intention to support pubs with energy bills past April 1st, the Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS) provides almost no relief to licensees, who will now be paying, in many cases, more than 4 times more than they were in 2021. With wholesale prices falling dramatically in 2023, anyone signing into a new contract now can access prices as low as 30ppkWh, which is in stark contrast to contracted rates in 2022.

“Government’s extension of the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) for domestic users was the right thing to do, protecting vulnerable consumers from the cost of heating their homes and cooking for their families. So many small businesses, but particularly pubs, will have no protection from the end of this month, standing to lose their businesses, family homes and livelihoods. 

“Ofgem’s review of the numerous bad supplier practices including failure to pass on the Government support as well as rocketing standing charges, has already taken too long, and any further delays will now result in unnecessary business failures. They must use all of their powers urgently to encourage suppliers to recontract with those businesses who had no option but to sign deals at the peak of energy prices, or face being cut off.

“This is not just an issue of a small business disappearing - there will be a ripple effect on entire communities, losing essential skilled jobs, impacting on local suppliers & brewers, with lost Government taxation and repayment of pandemic specific debts.”

You can view the letter
here or see the attached PDF.

The Licensed Trade Charity launches new campaign as total service users hits 155k over 3 year period

With increased emotional and financial pressures being placed on those who work in the drinks industry, The Licensed Trade Charity has unveiled a brand-new campaign, ‘Because Everyone Needs A Little TLC,’ to drive greater awareness of the services the LTC offers and to encourage more industry professionals to access support when in need.


It is estimated that around 250,000 people working in the licensed trade are in need of support at any one time. Although awareness of the Licensed Trade Charity has increased in recent years, research has found that the majority of people working in the drinks industry are still unaware of the support they can access from the charity. ‘Because Everyone Needs A Little TLC,’ has been launched to impactfully communicate how the Licensed Trade Charity can help, who can access LTC services and to encourage those working in the licensed trade to seek support earlier to prevent an issue turning into a crisis.


The new campaign from the LTC is being supported by senior leaders throughout the industry, who will kick off the campaign with a thunderclap across social media on Monday 20th March, with further activity delivered by the charity and its partners across social and digital channels, trade events, PR and advertising. The charity will also be distributing material to over 2,000 businesses working in the sale, service, production or distribution of alcoholic drinks, to further communicate the services available, which includes emotional support, specialist guidance and financial grants.


Paula Smith, Head of Marketing at the Licensed Trade Charity said, “With the cost-of-living crisis biting and the hospitality industry facing continued challenges, we are very aware this is a tough time for many working in the drinks trade. However, if you are struggling, there is free support available from the Licensed Trade Charity.”


“With the launch of this new campaign, ‘Because Everyone Needs a Little TLC,’ we are determined to reach more people who work, or have worked, in the sale, service, production and distribution of alcoholic drinks, and encourage greater usage of our services among those who need them. Whether you or your colleague requires emotional support, specialist guidance or a financial grant, we implore you to speak to us because we can stop an issue turning into a crisis, and help you get you back to your best."


The launch of this new campaign comes as the Licensed Trade Charity releases its usage figures for 2022, the results of which show that drinks people accessing LTC services since the pandemic has remained markedly high, with the charity helping 36,000 people in 2022, bringing the total number of people helped since the start of 2020 up to 155k. Last year alone, financial support awarded by the Licensed Trade Charity through grants and services reached £1.17 million.


Calls to the charity’s helpline has also sustained very high numbers with the Licensed Trade Charity receiving 3,173 calls last year, up from 2,061 in 2021 and 1,037 in 2020. Of the calls last year, 63% were related to mental health.

Partnership working is the “superpower” of the industry

The “superpower” of the industry is when it works together, delegates heard at the National Pubwatch Conference, which was held in Swindon this week.
This was the view of BII CEO Steve Alton who said that “Collaboration and partnership are key” for the pub industry and late-night economy. 

“Our superpower as a sector is when we all come together,” he said.

He highlighted the success of collaboration during the Covid-19 pandemic and presenting a united message to Government when the industry needed support. 

“Part of that collaboration for the first time was getting the Government to recognise the unique role of hospitality beyond its economic contribution of £42bn a year,” he said. 

“Even beyond the 900,000 people employed in the pub sector or the mere three million in wider hospitality the really defining characteristic was the community and the social value that our sector has.”

He added that having this type of collaboration is also “fundamental” in improving late-night safety. 

Alton raised concerns about the survival of many businesses in the current economic climate. He said that the loss of some business would have huge impacts to the local economies, employment and the supply chain. 

“I would even argue to safety in the wider economy because having a vibrant, professionally-run hospitality is key for providing that backbone for societal issues we are trying to tackle currently,” he added. 

“It has never been tougher.” 

His view that partnership is crucial for the safety and success of the late-night economy was supported by the National Pubwatch of the Year Reading Pubwatch.  

“Pubwatch is a voluntary organisation. It should be run by licensees, for licensees and respect should be given that it is a standalone organisation,” Reading Pubwatch honorary chair Bill Donne told delegates.

“But it really needs support from partners, be it from the licensing officers at the council or from the police, but also other forums such as the local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), night time economy partnerships and so on.” 

He added that it is crucial for pubwatch members to have representation in other forums within the night-time economy and highlighted the success of this approach for Reading Pubwatch, which works in partnership with all stakeholders in the night-time economy, including the council, licensing department, trading standards, health and safety, police and fire and rescue. 

Donne also highlighted that pubwatches need “tenacity” and “resilience” to succeed.

“If you are running a pubwatch it won’t always go your way but you have to keep at it. That is how Reading has lasted for 20-years and we are building a legacy that we feel confident will bring us forward into the future,” he said. 

Donne pointed out the range of resources and support that National Pubwatch can provide and advised licensees to use the free training video and materials to support their businesses.


The prestigious National Pubwatch awards were handed out on the day including the National Pubwatch Award of Merit, sponsored by GBG, which rewards individuals that have contributed to the success of pubwatch schemes.


This was given to former Honorary Secretary of the All-party Parliamentary Beer Group and former vice chairman of Best Bar None Robert Humphreys, MBE, for his contribution to partnership working.


The prestigious Malcolm Eidmans award, sponsored by Poppleston Allen, which recognises the outstanding contribution made by a police officer or member of police staff in supporting Pubwatch was given to Police Sergeant Simon Hay who works with Orkney Pubwatch. 


National Pubwatch also gave a Bravery and Meritorious conduct Award to Alan Gray, a Norwich security officer, who stepped in to save the lives of people on a night-out after a man attacked people with a knife.


The conference also covered a legal update covering many topics including Martyns Law, agent of change, the new Sec 182 Guidance and Laughing Gas reforms which were presented by Gary Grant (Francis Taylor Building)  and Jonathan Smith (Poppleston Allen). There were also inputs from Insp Hayley Crawford of Nottinghamshire Police on the Ask for Angela Campaign and from the Home office on The Enough Campaign and Digital ID and technology and how it may be used with Age verification in the future.

Beds and Bars Partners With SafeUP

Beds and Bars has partnered with safety social network SafeUP to create a more secure, accessible environment for women in venues across Europe. Belushi’s Bars and St Christopher’s Inns hostels will become ‘Safe Places’ for women using the SafeUP app, and both customers and staff will be encouraged to join SafeUP’s growing community.


SafeUP, founded in 2019, is on a mission to build a powerful network in which every woman feels more safe. Women joining the community gain access to an app which enables users to call specially trained local women Guardians, see ‘Safe Spaces’ nearby, and apply to become a Guardian themselves.


Beds and Bars staff will benefit from specialised training developed by SafeUP which helps to raise awareness and prevent incidences of sexual harassment, as well as providing tools for employees to become active bystanders and support those who feel unsafe.
Customers at Belushi’s Bars and St Christopher’s Inns hostels will see posters across the venues introducing SafeUP’s work and including a QR code to download the safety network app. For women and girls in new, foreign cities SafeUP’s Guardians can be a much-needed reassurance, as this SafeUP member found;


“I was alone on a business trip in a foreign city. Feeling desperate, I decided to use the app - and it worked! A nice guardian asked me if everything was fine and made sure I was okay.”


Last year, over 80% of women responding to a YouGov survey said they wanted more safety procedures in bars and pubs. Beds and Bars’ core values include safety and security, but the organisation realises more needs to be done to protect women across the hospitality industry;
“Whilst we’re proud of how inclusive our venues already are, we recognise that there is always room for improvement in how we create a safe and welcoming environment - as well as how we provide useful information on how to travel a city or country with safety in mind - for women and girls especially. That’s why we’re delighted to partner with SafeUP and spread the word about their safety network which has the very real potential to save lives.” - Sophie Herbert, Director of Marketing, Beds and Bars.
Neta Schreiber, CEO and Co-founder of SafeUP, said; “SafeUP is here in order to unite women under the common goal of mutual protection, safety and empowerment. Every woman deserves the right to feel that she is in control of her destiny - to travel the world fearlessly; to go dancing in a nightclub, or even simply to go on a walk late at night. Together with Beds and Bars we are raising awareness of the issue at hand and providing women across Europe with SafePlaces that are available 24/7.”

The Drinks Trust supports our drinks hospitality industry people in mind and body

We all are aware that the challenges of the past few years have taken their toll on the physical and mental health of many colleagues in our drinks and hospitality industry community. 

For this reason, The Drinks Trust has launched and established many services and resources to support our well-being through its Restore services– all completely free to use.

What Restore services offer: 

•         Need to talk? Our 24/7 confidential Support Line provides in-the-moment guidance from qualified counsellors, who can also discuss what other Drinks Trust services may benefit you  
•         In need of legal, financial, or other practical advice? Our Support Line can arrange a 30-minute one-to-one session with an expert to answer your questions. Topics include Legal Advice, Financial & Debt Advice, Parenting, Life Coaching and more 
•         For those looking to change their relationship with alcohol, we work with Club Soda to bring mindful drinking courses to our industry colleagues. 
•         We’ve teamed up with an online therapy service Dr Julian, to offer free one-to-one sessions with highly experienced therapists and psychologists through video chat, telephone, and text message. Members of the drinks hospitality industry can access Dr Julian services at no cost to themselves, and for those struggling with ongoing and significant concerns, The Drinks Trust will fund ongoing treatment
•           Our Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses can help you develop strategies for coping with negative thought patterns and difficult situations

Who we help  
All of our well-being services are entirely free. Anyone in the drinks and hospitality trade can access them anytime of the day or night, no matter your financial situation or the length of service in the industry.  

To find out more about The Drinks Trust’s well-being services, please visit

To access our Restore services, please: 
Call 0800 9154610 
[email protected] 
Whatsapp “Hi” to 00 353 87 369 0010

British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) reacts to Spring Budget 2023

Today’s Spring Budget Statement offers little comfort for BII members, running pubs at the heart of every community across the UK. The Chancellor’s specific reference to “the great British pub” as “one of our most treasured community institutions”, was not matched with the vital ongoing support needed for pubs paying excessive energy charges, leaving many facing imminent business failure as meaningful Government support falls away at the end of the month.


Steve Alton, BII CEO commented:
“Many of our members had no choice but to take unfair and untenable energy contracts, when prices were at their highest from last summer, and the impact of this combined with wider inflation and wary consumers with less disposable income, has left their businesses fragile and facing an uncertain future.


“Without further support from Government, Ofgem must now step in urgently to tackle the energy suppliers holding our sector hostage with sky high standing charges and energy prices that will in many cases be 3 to 4 times that of 2021 rates. Forcing suppliers to allow businesses to recontract at the much lower rates now being seen in the market needs to be prioritised, as without it, many otherwise viable pubs will be forced to close.


“The freeze on duty rates in the short term, and the increase on Draught Relief from 5% to 9.2% in the summer will be welcome, if felt directly by pubs. In addition however, the actual impact will depend heavily on the RPI rise that will be applied alongside this relief from 1st August 2023.


“The positive steps taken by Government to support families with enhanced childcare support, a freeze on fuel duty and other measures, may provide some confidence to allow consumer spending to rise, but for the immediate future, pubs will be facing significant trading challenges. 


“Our pubs provide accessible, skilled jobs in every community and will be key to providing flexible opportunities in every area of the UK, aligning with the Government’s policies on getting people back into meaningful employment. They can only do this if they are supported to thrive as local businesses and this Budget has absolutely missed the opportunity to help pubs struggling to cope with a perfect storm of challenges.


“Outside of the immediate issues our members are facing, we will continue to make the case for a full overhaul of the outdated and unfair tax system that affects our pubs, specifically VAT and longer term Business Rate reform.”

Midweek sport invaluable for on-trade

As the UEFA Champions league kicks off again, new research from KAM, in partnership with BT Sport, has found that showing live sport can be a more important driver of footfall for pubs during weekdays than at weekends.

The research showed that 43% of sports fans say watching live sport is the main reason they go to a pub mid-week whereas at the weekend there are many other factors at play. Although still a significant reason to visit, with 35% saying live sport was the biggest driver at the weekend. 92% of sports fans said that showing live sport during the week positively influences their visit frequency to a pub.


Katy Moses, Founder/MD KAM: “Midweek trading has made the headlines recently, as operators explore options to reduce opening hours and therefore associated costs, and understandably so. But If operators are looking at ways to pull people off their sofas and into venues in the week, then the opportunities to attract sport fans and associated spend during traditionally quiet mid-week times is huge. The research highlights that showing mid-week live sport should be looked at as a vehicle for driving true incrementality and also loyalty.”


Phillip Thorley Director of Thorley Taverns: “Sport during the week gives customers a reason to come out and visit. It gives our customers a compelling reason definitely helps.” 


Alasdair Collis, Director of Commercial Customers, BT Sport said “In tough economic times every penny spent counts. The more insight we have and that we can offer into consumer behaviour, the better we are able to help our customers keep the drinks coming and the tills ringing. This report illustrates just how key live sport is to driving footfall and incremental spend for pubs during what can be, quieter midweek evenings.”


The KAM research suggests these mid-week visits aren’t cannibalising weekend visits either – that they are additional visits as opposed to the repurposing of social spend, with 74% saying visiting the pub for sport midweek doesn’t affect visits at other times during the week. And sport fans are very valuable customers, 85% said they spend more on drinks in pubs when watching sport. 


Research shows midweek sports drives footfall into venues in both city centre and local settings particularly following the increase in numbers of people working remotely. 85% of office workers said live sport influences the time they spend in town/city centre pubs as it attracts them to visit as part of the after-work occasion and 91% said the same for local/community pubs as an opportunity to get out the house after working from home.


Showing live sport can also play a part in driving loyalty and repeat visits; 73% of respondents said if they have a positive experience watching sport in a pub then they are likely to re-visit for non-sport occasions. 75% said they’d stop going to their local if it stopped showing sport.


The research suggests that football is by far the biggest footfall driving sport to pubs, of those who watch sport in a pub, 89% do so to watch football. Rugby is the second most popular at 32%. 62% say they support a 'Big 6' football team hence why the Premier League and UEFA competitions are key to attracting fans.


Matt Jagger, Marketing & Guest Experience Manager, Punch Pubs: “Sport is one of our key drivers as part of our rhythm of the week. Premier League football is a really big draw to our pubs, and outperforms other major sporting competitions, including international tournaments like The World Cup & The Euros. Add to that the midweek fixtures in The Champions League & Europa League, and there is almost wall to wall sports for fans to enjoy in the comfort of their local.”


Katy Moses, Founder/MD, KAM: “It’s not news that the hospitality sector is facing unprecedented challenges from all angles at the moment, but despite pressures on the bottom line there is a great opportunity to look to grow the top line. With sport driving additional custom over the season as well as the halo effect of repeat visits and loyalty, live sport can be a game changer for many pubs, especially during the quieter mid-week days.”
The full whitepaper can be downloaded here:

Shield Safety Highlights the importance of food safety amidst news of 800 venues in Britain with a hygiene rating of zero.

All food businesses across Britain are striving for a reputable food hygiene rating of 5. Without the correct management checks, it’s easy to miss vital things needed to score high, as highlighted in the recent Daily Mail article. 


Approximately 800 restaurants and pubs across Britain have been rated a zero-food hygiene rating, and 13,400 have a rating below the satisfactory rating at 3.


Our very own Rob Easton, Head of Environmental Health here at Shield Safety, emphasises the importance of good food hygiene in your restaurant or pub, especially if you’re striving for full marks.


“Failure to maintain high levels of food hygiene can have devastating consequences, for the people eating the food, the business selling it, and the wider economy. Illness from consuming food that isn’t safely prepared and cooked can range from an upset stomach to serious life-changing conditions and even death. The Food Standards Agency has calculated foodborne illnesses cost the UK economy £9.1 billion a year. This cost, amongst other things, includes loss of earnings to those who are made ill, medical expenses, and disruption to businesses. Good food hygiene not only helps prevent food poisoning, but it’s also good for business. The research found that in the last year, over 50% of consumers checked food hygiene ratings before choosing where to eat and 41% of those would only consider a food hygiene rating of 4 or 5 as acceptable.”


Here at Shield Safety, we take the stress of safety off you and your business so you can focus on what matters most, your team and your customers. From outstanding Audits delivered by exceptional EHPs to our RiskProof software where you can become fully compliant with health and safety, fire safety, and food safety. Let’s make your business compliant, together.


Check out our services and how we can make safety simple for you here

RIP Harry Shindler OBE, CBII

It was my privilege as the then Chief Executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in 2019 to have a long chat with Harry at our Summer Lunch, on that day celebrating his 38 years of membership of the BII, in front of 900 of his peers. From 1981 to 1990 Harry was general secretary of the National Association of Licensed House Managers (NALHM) where we first met at NALHM meetings, when I was just a junior Area Manager for Friary Meux in Guildford in the early 80’s. He became a founder member of the BII in 1981 and despite living in Italy he tried to come back every year to attend our Summer lunch.


Harry was a wonderful man to talk to, not only about pubs, but his involvement with the Labour Party, his continuous fight on behalf of British expats living in Italy as well as his work with the Italy Star Association. Harry was awarded with an MBE in 2014 for his work in identifying service personnel killed in WW2. He was better known in later life for his campaigning work against Brexit and the so called 15-year rule which meant Brits who had been out of the country for more than 15 years lost the right to vote. He won a great victory in 2022 with the passage of the Elections Act allowing expats to continue to vote. In recognition of his service to foreign British nationals he was awarded an OBE in 2021.


Last year at the age of 101, WW2 veteran Harry, who landed and fought at the Battle of Anzio in 1944 was asked to be the last to sign a book of condolence before the Queen’s funeral. The Defence Attaché Col. Mark Smith travelled to Harry’s home in Porto D’ Ascoli about three hours from Rome, to arrange the signing.


Harry loved the British pub and was desperately worried about the number of pubs failing each year. When in 2021 the editor of the BII magazine Kate Oppenheim interviewed him, Harry said “pubs are a great part of this country. Other parts of Europe have tried to copy them, but the true spirit of a British pub is never captured there because here they are an inherent part of their communities. They are about people, both those that work in them and those that visit them”. This was as true in Harry’s early days with NAHLM as it is now. 


Harry loved life and loved pubs just as we all do at the BII. He will be missed by me and all that knew him, and the Summer Event will be all the poorer without his company.


Mike Clist – Non-Executive Director and former CEO of the BII
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