A LEADING publican and poverty campaigners in York have accused the Chancellor of plunging many people into despair and destitution.

Paul Crossman, who chairs the Campaign for Pubs, said Rishi Sunak's Spring statement yesterday had failed to offer any fresh support for pubs and publicans hit by the cost-of-living crisis in the wake of the pandemic.

The Campaign, which speaks up nationally for the industry at grassroots level, says pubs are facing 'a perfect storm of dramatically rising costs' as many customers have to cut their own spending on non-essential items.

Energy and product costs for pubs continue to rise significantly, posing the risk that many otherwise profitable venues will struggle to stay afloat on top of ongoing debt repayments, it adds.

Costs for brewers and other producers are also increasing.

The Campaign says the Chancellor also failed to stop the forthcoming hike in VAT back to 20 per cent on meals, soft drinks and overnight accommodation.

Paul, licensee of The Swan, The Slip Inn and Volunteer Arms in York, said: “Spiralling costs and the impending cost of living crisis present a new existential threat to pubs.

"Businesses everywhere were looking to the Chancellor for targeted support to keep afloat and keep people in jobs.

“Our precious pubs are more than just businesses, they are also a vital community service. They already had it hard and it only looks set to get harder with nothing of substance in the Spring Statement."

Meanwhile, the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an independent social change organisation working to solve UK poverty, said Mr Sunak's measures would not ease the financial pain for many people facing crisis point.

About 600,000 people will be pulled into poverty, says JRF after analysing the impact of the Chancellor's failure to increase benefits in line with inflation, along with the 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance and change to the earnings threshold.

JRF says families in poverty will be £446 per year worse off in 2022/23 compared to if benefits had been uprated in line with current inflation levels.

Dave Innes, head of economics, said the Chancellor had 'abandoned many to the threat of destitution' and 'acted recklessly in pressing ahead with a second real-terms cut to benefits in six months'.

“Changes to National Insurance won’t help those who aren’t working or can’t work due to disability, illness or caring responsibilities, and exposes them to an increased risk of becoming destitute.

"This means they will face regularly going without absolute essentials such as food, energy and basic hygiene products."

He said benefits were reaching their lowest level in real terms since 1985.

“The Household Support Fund is a drop in the ocean when we consider the number of people who will reach crisis point in the coming months, from the pressure of energy bills alone.

“This dire situation will leave millions in despair as a direct consequence of the Chancellor’s irresponsible choices."