Star comment: Cherished pubs facing a stark challenge to survive

Pubs have gone through an incredibly difficult period.

They have fought hard to remain relevant while an increasing number of people opted to drink at home, taking advantage of low prices and easily available supplies.

They struggled through Covid against a backdrop of on-off closures, as the country went in and out of lockdowns.

Now, however, they face an even starker challenge. The future is bleak as energy bills rise and many view the impending winter as an extinction event.

It’s not just pubs. All who are in the hospitality industry – and their suppliers and other food business – face wipe-out.

No matter how well run, businesses are going to have to change radically if they are to survive. Given the higher costs, an inability of customers to afford inevitable price rises and a cutback in discretionary spending, many will go under.

The hospitality industry is one of the UK’s big employers. It was treated badly during Covid and its fragility is once more being exposed as pubs and restaurants realise they will struggle to afford such simple luxuries as expensive, energy-burning ovens or freezers and fridges.

Similar challenges are facing many businesses and the wider economic outlook is worrying. Action is needed, although finding answers will not be easy. Vladimir Putin is holding Europe to ransom over energy prices; particularly gas. The winter will be tough for many as the man in the Kremlin extorts money from earth’s natural resources.

The transition to greener, cleaner energy must come - and fast - but this winter will be uncomfortable. Individuals and businesses will suffer. Not all will survive.

We don’t have enough water when it doesn’t rain. When it does, the system becomes so overloaded that water companies pump raw sewage into rivers and oceans, killing wildlife and causing generational damage.

There are leaks that are not attended while bills continue to rise. The bosses at the top reap huge rewards and shareholders enjoy significant dividends as large profits are made.

This, almost unbelievably, is the state of our waterways in 2022. If it were 1962, perhaps it would be understandable. But in the modern idiom it is frightening.

This week, we have been advised not to be squeamish about drinking water that’s been cleaned from our sewage system. It beggars belief. From energy companies to water companies, it’s easy to feel let down by those businesses that operate our infrastructure.

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