Analysis of Government data by real estate adviser Altus Group showed the overall number of pubs in England and Wales, liable for business rates, including those vacant and being offered to let, fell to 40,617 on 31 December – down 446 (6%) compared with 41,063 on 31 December 2019.
Pubs that ‘disappeared’ have either been demolished and/or converted into other uses such as homes and offices with the rate also down 51% on 914 in 2018.
Altus Group head of property tax Robert Hayton said: “Pubs and restaurants bore the brunt of coronavirus restrictions in 2020 but proved remarkably resilient aided by Government interventions such as furlough, grants, rates relief and liquidity in the form of cheap loans.”
The real estate expert also hailed the Chancellor’s one-off top up grants announced last week (Tuesday 5 January) where pubs can claim up to £9,000, dependent on their rateable value.
Hayton estimated the top up funding will provide an additional £239.1m in support for the sector. He added: “We warned of a rent debt crisis without increased levels of targeted support and this additional funding will ease those fears. The Chancellor should be commended for the swift action he took.”
Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We welcome this much-needed support from the Chancellor, worth £277m to UK pubs. It is the lifeline we have been campaigning for to save our pubs and help them survive through to the spring.
She added: “Without this support, pubs across England were at real risk of being lost for good at the beginning of this year. We had been anticipating permanent closures in the very short term without it."
UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls cautiously welcomed the funding.
“This is obviously a very positive step to keep businesses afloat in the immediate term and, for that reason, must be welcomed," she said.
“The Chancellor has rightly recognised the costs imposed on hospitality businesses by enforced closures and the need for additional support. It is also encouraging that the discretionary grants address the suffering in the supply chains upon which our sector is reliant.
“However, while this announcement is most welcome, make no mistake that this is only a sticking plaster for immediate ills – it is not enough to even cover the costs of many businesses and certainly will not underpin longer-term business viability for our sector. To address the inevitable and existential challenges that hospitality faces, we need confirmation of extensions to the business rates holiday and of the 5% VAT rate.