The annual review report by the real estate data company Altus Group has revealed that last year, more than 900 pubs disappeared from Britain because of increase in business rates and intense cost pressures.
According to the report, a total of 914 pubs vanished from British streets in 2018.
Through the year, on an average, about 76 pubs closed down their shutters every month even though this rate of decline is lower than what the rate was a year ago in 2017. As on 1 January 2019, there were a total of 41,536 pubs in England and Wales that were liable for business rates. And compared to the number present before a controversial revaluation came into force in April 2017, the number is lower by 1,530.
“Pubs are being hit with a myriad of cost pressures at a time of unprecedented political uncertainty and unstable consumer confidence. Unless positive action is taken by the government to address crippling costs, more pubs will be forced out of business,” said The chief executive of UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls.
Publicans in the UK were being forced to lay off staff, increase prices and hold off investment because of increases in business rates, said the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) earlier this month.
The belief that the system was being unfair on them and their business was opined by three out of four respondents in a survey of 650 licensees conducted by the pub campaign group. “Since the last business rates revaluation in 2017, it has been clear that the system simply isn’t working for publicans,” said the chief executive of Camra, Tom Stainer.
However, according to the new data, there has been a significant easing in the rate at which pubs in the UK are disappearing either because of demolition activities of buildings or due to conversion of buildings for other uses such as homes or offices. The number of pubs in the UK dwindled to 43,066 from 54,674 in the seven year period before the change in business rates was implemented.
At a monthly rate if more than 100 pubs each month, 1,292 pubs disappeared from the high street in 2017.
“The increase in the thresholds at which businesses, such as pubs, pay business rates coupled with the pubs discount during the last two financial years has helped ease the decline. The new retail discount, which slashed rates bills by a third for high street firms with a rateable value less than £51,000 from 1 April, will help independent licensees in small premises and hopefully will stem the decline even further,” said the president of Altus Group, Alex Probyn.
“The great British pub has been at the heart of most communities for generations and they support thousands of jobs. We recently announced £188,000 for our Pub is the Hub programme to provide advice and support for rural pubs to help them diversify and expand their offer to customers,” said a government spokesman. He added that for the majority of smaller business, including eligible pubs, the government has also slashed business rates by a third.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)