Landlady says boozer’s ‘damning’ gas bill going up 628% from £5,000 to £30,000

A pub landlady has been horrified after discovering she might be forced to pay over £30,000 per year for her gas bill despite it only being around £5,000 before.

Deborah Connor, 52, runs the Camel pub – a cosy little east-end back street boozer with a speciality for traditional pie and mash.

Seating around 30 people, the snug little joint in Bethnal Green in London, Deborah took the pub over from her dad nine years ago – it has been in the family for 30 years.

READ MORE: UK pubs face closure crisis unless price of pint soars to £20, CAMRA chief warns

Her story comes following news broken by the Daily Star that pubs would have to charge £20 a pint to keep up with sky-rocketing energy bills.

Deborah said that after a nasty snare-up with overlapping contracts and rapidly rising costs, she saw her tariff going from 3.82p per unit for gas to 24p.

That’s an increase of around 628% compared to her previous rate and only covers central heating and hot water.

Currently, her gas bill works out at around £400 per month or “about £4,000 or £5,000 per year, and it’s going to go to a lot more than that,” with this number in danger of increasing more than sixfold.

“In reality it’s kind of, well, damning," she said.

“It’s a tiny little pub, it probably seats 30 to 35 people inside.”

That annual bill of £5,000, at the rate of Debbie’s new contract, means she could end up paying around £31,000 in gas bills alone per year.

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She had been in the process of switching to a new gas provider and had been hoping to secure a rate of 9.9p per unit – a good deal among skyrocketing prices – but this had fallen through over a logistical issue and she’d been forced to take the new available rate which had already jumped to 24p per unit in that time.

She says she isn’t giving up though. “I’m hoping I will [be able to keep the business open].

“We’ve been there for over 30 years but if the energy company doesn’t stick with what it said it was going to do with the 9.9p per unit rate then I don’t think it's sustainable to be paying £30 to £40 grand a year just on gas.”

It’s not just gas that’s giving her a headache though. Rising electricity bills forced her hand to negotiate the new deal – she said The Camel’s electricity bill for January alone this year was £3,720.

“I’ve probably got 14 light bulbs”.

“It’s gonna be pretty damaging. I think there’s going to be loads and loads of businesses that won’t survive along with the rise in rents.

She said that, whatever the amount her bills go up “I’ll probably have to take three times that amount of money through the till to cover the electricity and gas.

She said that, for example, if her bills were £40,000 she’d have to take £120,000 to cover it after all the other costs of running a pub.

“It’s been hard but its been enjoyable, but it’s a lovely little place”

Speaking on Thursday, Prime Minister Liz Truss announced that she would be offering support for businesses paying energy bills for six months and added struggling sectors would be able to receive help after that.

However, with no clear plan laid out on how businesses will be helped and no guarantee that support will be ongoing, small businesses like Debbie’s still face major uncertainty.


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