Action needed as hundreds of pubs have failed to re-open, CAMRA figures show

In response to pub closure figures for 2021, the Campaign for Real Ale calls for a VAT cut, changes to business rates systems and a new online sales tax to help give our locals a boost

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has released its pub closure statistics for 2021 and is calling for intervention from government to protect the great British pub. The figures released today show that across Great Britain last year 290 pubs were demolished or converted to another use – an average of just over five a week. There was an increase in the number of new pubs being built, or existing buildings being converted into pubs, averaging just over seven new pubs opening every week in the second half of the year. However, over 500 pubs were also classed as a ‘long term closure’ in 2021, where the building is still classed as a pub for planning purposes, but the business itself has closed or is empty and without tenants to run it, showing the lasting effects of the pandemic, and the present cost of business crisis.

The Campaign has highlighted a number of steps that Government across the UK should take in response to the report, and to the cost of living crisis, including:

  • An immediate cut in VAT for on-trade food and drink sales, to help both businesses and consumers
  • Introducing an Online Sales Tax, with the funds raised directed to relieve the grossly unfair rates burden on the pub and hospitality sector
  • Using the upcoming Statutory Pubs Code Review to bring more tied tenants into the scope of the Pubs Code for England and Wales; and making sure a robust Scottish Pubs Code is introduced later this year to offer protections for tied tenants in Scotland for the first time
  • 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
  • Confirming the retention of the duty exemption for small cider makers making under 70HL of product a year

Commenting, CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said:

“These figures show that whilst there is some encouraging news about new pubs opening in 2021, there is still a big problem with pub businesses not reopening after the pandemic. “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. “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 doing our bit, with our Summer of Pub campaign rallying people to support their locals at every possible opportunity, but we also need action from political leaders. 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. “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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