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8 months ago

17 Pubs a Week Calling Last Orders

British pubs, undeniably an integral part of the nation's cultural fabric, are facing unprecedented challenges. According to new Government statistics, 17 pubs in England and Wales are closing their doors for good each week. This alarming trend is a cause for concern for both pub-goers and owners alike.

Last Orders for Many

In the three months leading up to 30th June, a staggering 230 pubs ceased trading, marking a significant rise compared to the previous quarter when 153 closed. This grim reality means that 383 pubs, often cherished establishments in their local communities, were either demolished or repurposed between January and June. These mass closures have upset campaigners, who call for these businesses to be better safeguarded.

Energy Eating into Profits

One of the major factors contributing to the demise of pubs is skyrocketing energy costs. Over the past year, prices have surged by a staggering 80%, hitting an already struggling industry. A low-growth, high-inflation, and high-interest environment has not been kind to pubs in the UK.

Pubs are notorious for their high energy consumption due to around-the-clock refrigeration, heating requirements and lighting needs. The ever-increasing energy bills are now becoming unsustainable for many pub owners.

Group with drinks at a pub tableChris Miles, owner of the recently closed Fleece Hotel in Richmond, called for the Government to slash VAT to provide some relief.

He said: "I just thought 'I can't solve this problem'. It's a three-way squeeze: running costs, tax and staffing. VAT is the single biggest problem, a fifth of the money we generate we have to pay to HMRC. My last bill was £26,000 - and that's for a business that's never made a profit. We don't want hand-outs or grants, we just want to keep more of the money we generate."

Insurance Costs Brewing Trouble

In addition to energy and tax, insurance expenses are another critical issue plaguing pubs. The recent case of The Crooked House in England’s Black Country is a stark example of how insurance woes can escalate. After the historic pub was all but destroyed in a fire and subsequently demolished without permission, it caused outrage in the local community of Dudley and far beyond.

Pub landlords across the country are grappling with rising premiums and the threat of inadequate coverage. These issues are forcing many to consider selling their beloved establishments or closing their doors for good.

Outpouring of Support

Amidst these challenges, there is a growing call for action. Alex Probyn, President of Property Tax at Altus Group, called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to ease the pressure of business rates. Rates are set to see an inflation-prompted increase in the next financial year unless the government intervenes. This rise is projected to add over 6% to bills.

Alex Probyn said: "With energy costs up 80% year-on-year in a low-growth, high-inflation and high-interest rates environment, the last thing pubs need is an average business rates hike of £12,385 next year."

The Campaign for Pubs has also raised its voice, urging the Government to introduce stricter penalties for ‘unauthorised conversions and demolitions’. Even profitable pubs are at risk, with some landlords seeking to cash in by converting or demolishing premises for housing. The group, committed to protecting pubs, advocates for measures to safeguard what it calls ‘vital community spaces’.

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From Pints to Kilowatts

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Sam White