Responding to a new report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) titled the Economies of ale, British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds commented:
“This new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reflects our own data and research which shows that many pubs are struggling.
“Pubs face a number of cost pressures, from high taxes in the form of beer duty, VAT and business rates, to wage increases and food inflation. This means they are under increasing financial pressure from every angle, which is driving closures.
“The pub sector is proud of its role as a major UK employer and so the ONS data showing that pubs are employing more people than ever before is welcome news. This reflects that many smaller pubs are closing and larger pubs will inevitably employ more people. Pubs are also diversifying their offer to create an experience that appeals to the changing needs of consumers, hence the transition towards more food and entertainment-led establishments. Pubs now serve one billion meals each year and have 50,000 bedrooms. They are a vital part of both our international and domestic tourism market.
“Unless more is done to help alleviate the cost pressures pubs face however, they will continue to close and jobs will be lost. Under the beer duty escalator alone (2008-2013), beer tax rose by 42%. During that time beer sales fell by 24% in pubs. This caused 5,000 pubs to close.
“The Chancellor’s decision in the Budget to freeze beer tax and lower business rates for thousands of pubs will make a real difference to the viability of the sector moving forward – particularly the local, community pubs that the ONS data shows are disappearing.
“More still needs to be done though to save those pubs that are most at risk from closure. This is why we continue to support the Long Live the Local campaign, which celebrates the vital role local, community pubs play in our lives across the UK, and calls on the government to reduce the cost pressures they are under.”