Pubs ‘go back to 18th century’ by using candles as energy bills ‘double in a year’

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Pub landlords say they are “going back to 1753” after resorting to using candles to save electricity amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Alan Woods, who manages the Masons Arms in Camelford, Cornwall, is struggling with the soaring costs of keeping the lights turned on.

In an effort to tackle the price hike, he keeps the pub solely lit by candles every Monday.

He told Cornwall Live : “We are going back to 1753, the year The Masons Arms opened. It was known as The Kings Arms.

“Travel back in time where the pub will be lit by candle light throughout, also our normal menu and our Autumn menu will be running.

“This will also help us to lower our extortionate electric bill and give you a unique evening.”

Mr Woods said his electric bill one month before the pandemic hit, in March 2020, was around £1,000 a month.

This has since nearly quadrupled, with his last bill coming to just below £4,000.

Referring to the end of the pandemic, he added: ““We had those few months when it was going great again and the pub was livening up.

“Then we had our energy bills and it went mental – how has it gone that crazy?

“We’re all in the same boat as small businesses. There’s only so much you can do to help.

“People are all looking at strategies, closing their doors a few days a week, or even permanently. Come October, we’ll see what the increases are but it’s not looking good.”

Jamie Hilton-Lavender, who runs The Thomas Daniell in Truro, said his energy bills have almost doubled in the past year.

Recently, he has been forced to close on a Monday and Tuesday each week to help keep costs down.

He said: “Everyone’s struggling with the cost of living. It’s getting out of control.

“There’s only so much extra you can charge your customers to come in, some of the costs you have to bring on yourself.”

Mr Hilton-Lavender plans to go one step further by switching off the mains completely for a candle-lit night on October 4.

He said it will offer a unique experience to customers, while also saving on electricity.

The concerns over pub closures come as the Business Secretary announces energy support will be available to businesses next year, with the current “broad brush” policy replaced by a targeted approach.

Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted there would be further support after April 1, after announcing the Government would for the next six months foot part of the rocketing energy bills faced by businesses, charities, schools and hospitals.

In the Commons, the Business Secretary said a planned three-month review of the measures will be an opportunity to decide which organisations will need continuing support after April.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) told MPs a meat manufacturer in her constituency had been quoted a 345% increase in its electricity costs.

She said: “While I appreciate what his plans may be to help them in the next six months, what can he offer them after the end of that six months, because a 345% increase in just electricity costs could put this business under?”

Mr Rees-Mogg responded: “We have done this on a completely broad brush basis because at the moment that’s the right thing to do, it’s needed urgently.

“However, we do need to examine exactly who ought to benefit in a review and then have that announced in plenty of time for April 1 to see what level of support is needed for the longer term.”

He had earlier told the Commons: “The three-month review is taking place to work out who will need support to ensure that support is properly targeted.

“What has been done at the moment is an immediate response to an extreme crisis to benefit everybody. But not everybody necessarily needs the same level of support.”

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds welcomed the Government’s “conversion” to the freezing of energy prices, but added: “We must all acknowledge, for too many companies, this news will already have come too late to save them.”

He also questioned how the support would be paid for, telling MPs: “This Government says it cannot cost this package. But it’s clearly expensive.

“This Government says it can cut taxes, increase spending, increase borrowing and magically pay for that through higher growth that after 12 years in office has completely eluded them.

“This is fantasy economics and is a threat to British businesses and the financial stability of this country.”