BUDGET pub giant Wetherspoon has hiked food and drink prices for the fifth time in just two years.

Critics say the company is “running out of excuses” for the increases, which they warn will drive customers away.

The chain has slapped up to 20p on selected tipples, including beers, ciders, wines and spirits as well as coffee and soft drinks.

The budget boozer has also increased the price of its popular meal deal range by ten pence and some breakfast menu items by 20p.

Prices vary nationally, but in one branch — The Oxted in Surrey — an Ultimate Burger plus alcoholic drink now costs £7.75.

Two years ago it was increased from £7.25 to £7.40 — then to £7.49 in October 2017 and £7.59 in March 2018 before hitting £7.65 in October.

Wetherspoon, which has more than 900 pubs across the country, announced in January its six-month profits would be lower than expected as rising wage costs took the fizz out of strong sales growth.

But consumer rights expert Martyn James commented: “It’s getting harder for Wetherspoon to hide behind the usual excuses for yet another price rise.

“Selling food and booze at bargain prices made the company. But price rises on this scale will drive their customers out of the door.”

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon insisted: “We believe that we continue to offer excellent value for money meals in our pubs.”