Pubs will return to paying 20% VAT this year, after paying 5% VAT for most of the pandemicAmie Johnson/UNSPLASH

Cambridge pubs are hiking up prices as they bear the brunt of rising costs due to the pandemic and Brexit. 

A UK hospitality survey representing 8,200 venues showed that nearly half of owners (47%) reported that they would have to increase prices by over 10% this year.

The chief executive of UK hospitality, Kate Nicchols, said these circumstances are “weighing very heavily on these businesses, which have had nothing but a torrid time,” and added that many businesses will have to pass on these costs to their customers in order to stay afloat.

Speaking to Varsity, co-owner of the Maypole Vincent Castiglione said that so far, price increases have not been a major problem.

“The price increase is just something we have to cope with but it’s not a major thing. We’ve had to put the prices up on certain things, but we’ve got a pretty loyal following so we’re quite lucky.”

He added that the price of the food menu had to be increased slightly, and that the price of beer had been increased by around 10p.

But a manager of another independent pub said being shut took a "massive toll on the business. 

“We don’t want to smack customers in the face with a massive price increase, but obviously prices have gone up, so it’s hard to balance that." 

Throughout the pandemic, pubs only had to pay 5% VAT, but this will return to 20% this year.

The Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin has been particularly against the proposed increase in VAT, and in September his pubs reduced their prices by 7.5% for a day to protest this.

The next few months present even more challenges for the hospitality industry: the withdrawal of Covid support, rise of the living wage, and the uncertainty over the war in Ukraine.