The Bank of England has predicted that the UK economy will contract in the final quarter of the year
AFP News

Despite the rising inflation in the UK, the management of the Guy Earl of Warwick Pub in Bexley has opened a weekly soup kitchen for the homeless people in the area.

The pub, run by Ray Irwin, 46, and Bonnie Tarleton, 29, started in the first week in December, and it will open on Monday mornings all through Christmas for the needy in the area. The soup kitchen opens from 10 am to 1 pm when trade for the pub is quiet.

According to Irwin, the aim of opening the Bexley pub is to "get normality" back to the people in need. Speaking on what birthed the idea, the couple mentioned it resulted from their relationship with a local homeless man in the area.

In addition, they mentioned their intention to host a variety of free dinners for those that have to spend Christmas Day alone this year.

The hub managers said they had noticed the ongoing cost of the living crisis affecting customers' spending habits, as it is becoming an issue, and people's bills are starting to rise. Irwin noted it is affecting them too.

In a news report, the Chamber of Commerce Business West observed that more than 50% of companies in the South West had been affected by economic and political instability in the last quarter of 2022.

The survey, which questioned 350 leaders across the region, stated three-quarters of companies were concerned about the wider economic conditions. In contrast, 63% of companies noted business uncertainty was a significant concern.

Inflation continues to put pressure on firms in the region too. In the last three months, more than 50% questioned in the survey have increased their prices due to high costs, while the remaining are expecting to increase their prices next quarter.

In addition, there have been difficulties in hiring staff, with 79% of businesses reporting the struggles they are facing with the staffing shortages. Only 18% of respondents affirmed a rise in staff, and a fifth are looking to employ more during the next three months.

Director of Policy at Business West, Matt Griffith, added that this year "has been a very tough year for local businesses with global inflation and economic headwind compounded by a confidence-sapping period of political uncertainty in the UK. The consequences are still being felt on businesses' balance sheets and economic sentiment. We hope that 2023 holds more cheer."

With nothing holding them back, the managers of the Bexley pub still plan to run the soup kitchen for as long as needed.