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As the United Kingdom faces a troubling rise in the cost of living, FRANCE 24’s third report in a series of five focuses on pubs. The country’s much-loved cultural icons are suffering in these times of economic turmoil made worse by Brexit and a lack of affordable, skilled workers. Expenses have gone up while customers have decreased purchasing power. Independent or privately owned pubs are the worst affected, as FRANCE 24’s Julien Sauvaget and Clovis Casali report from London.
The Highbury Barn tavern, an independent pub in London’s borough of Islington, is an institution marking several generations. Since Brexit, its manager, Fatima, has struggled to find staff at a reasonable price.
Her other major concern is rising energy prices: “The energy cost doesn’t just affect the running of the business, it affects also the cost of food and drinks. They are putting the prices up, up, up,” she says from her small office behind the bar while preparing pay slips.
The pub is an institution but these days low purchasing power means cutbacks. “Before they were having ten pints; now they go for maybe one good one, or they choose a big day to go out. Before, the quiet week … was the last week of the month. Now you can see the ‘quiet day’ from the 15th. You see more locals or regulars telling you: ‘Oh, I don’t have any more money left for the rest of the month’,” Fatima says.
She tries regularly to negotiate prices with suppliers, but doesn’t have the bargaining power of big pub chains.
Click on the player above to watch FRANCE 24’s full report.
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