Five organisations representing the UK hospitality industry have called on the government to take urgent action to counter soaring energy costs in a joint letter.
UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping, Music Venue Trust and Night-Time Industries Association have jointly declared that "rocketing" energy prices are creating a state of "existential emergency".
The letter asks that the government and the Conservative leadership contenders outline a comprehensive support package for an industry that accounts for 10% of the British workforce and 5% of UK GDP.
Hospitality operators are currently facing average annual bill increases of at least 300%, coupled with inflation at double digits for the first time since 1982.
The letter reads: "Hospitality operators face average annual bill increases in the region of at least 300%, putting at risk businesses and jobs. It is also increasingly clear that a significant number of energy providers have withdrawn service provision from the Hospitality market altogether. The primary purpose of a free market for energy supply to businesses is to create competition, which leads to improved services, competitive rates, resilient suppliers, and the ability to invest in long term and sustainable solutions to energy demand. In the Hospitality sector, there is unequivocal evidence that this primary purpose is failing."
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, added: "Hundreds of hospitality businesses across the country are staring into an abyss of closure and possible failure, leading to thousands of job losses; so it's now or never for government help and support if this vital sector is to survive the extraordinary threats pushing much of it to the very brink of existence."
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, added: "Rising energy bills are putting pubs in real jeopardy. Sudden, extreme price hikes are already forcing publicans to make tough choices, from reducing opening hours to cutting options on their menus. We are experiencing a perfect storm that is not only shrinking but eradicating profitability margins.
"We urgently need an energy price cap for small businesses before extortionate bills cripple pubs and we lose them forever in communities across the country."
Earlier this week, Nicholls called for "urgent support" from the government following the release of ONS data, which revealed that low unemployment rates have been exacerbating the staffing crisis.