New pub openings outweigh closures

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

New pub openings outweigh closures according to  the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)

Related tags Camra Pub & bar Coronavirus

Just over seven new pubs opened every week in the second half of 2021, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has revealed.

Its latest pub closure statistics showed there had been an increase in the number of new pubs being built, or existing buildings being converted into pubs during the latter part of the year – activity described by the campaign group as 'encouraging'.

However, CAMRA also warned that 290 pubs closed in 2021 – equating to five per week on average – and said there was 'still a big problem with pub businesses not reopening after the pandemic'.

More than 500 pubs were classed as ‘long term closure’ in 2021 – where the building is still categorised as a pub for planning purposes but the business itself has closed or is empty without tenants to run it, which showed the lasting effects of the pandemic, the group said.

“With the cost of living crisis affecting consumers, and the cost of business crisis facing our pubs, brewers and cider makers, we are really concerned that this positive news from our 2021 figures will turn into a nightmare report for 2022,” Nik Antona, CAMRA chairman, cautioned.

“Pubs are not only vital employers, but they are key to community life up and down the country – bringing people together and tackling loneliness and social isolation.

“Government across the UK must do more to make sure pub businesses can survive the cost of business crisis, and that consumers can still support their local pubs at a time when household budgets are being squeezed.”

CAMRA is calling on the Government to introduce a number of measures that include immediately cutting VAT for on-trade food and drink sales, to help both businesses and consumers; and introducing an Online Sales Tax, with the funds raised directed to relieve the rates burden on the pub and hospitality sector; bringing forward the introduction of the new draught duty rate for beer and cider, confirming that it will apply to containers of 20L and over; and confirming the retention of the duty exemption for small cider makers making under 70HL of product a year.

It also suggests using the upcoming Statutory Pubs Code Review to bring more tied tenants into the scope of the Pubs Code for England and Wales; and ensuring a robust Scottish Pubs Code is introduced later this year to offer protections for tied tenants in Scotland for the first time.

“The UK, Scottish and Welsh governments must take action to safeguard the future of the great British pub so they can continue to play their part at the heart of community life in the years to come,” Antona, insisted.

“That’s why CAMRA is calling for a cut in VAT for food and drink served in pubs and the introduction of fairer business rates systems that desperately need designing so that pubs are taxed fairly - together with an online sales tax in order that online businesses pay their fair share too.”

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