More pubs close down in Worthing

More and more pubs nationwide are closing their doors.
More and more pubs nationwide are closing their doors.

Worthing lost five of its pubs in just one year, according to official statistics.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2016 there were 55 pubs but bars a year later that had fallen to 50.

Across the UK, 655 pubs closed over the period including 45 local authorities where 10 or more were shut.

Pubs have been pointing the finger of blame at the taxman for their troubles, complaining about the duty on beer, VAT levels and the cost of business rates.

Britain’s Beer Alliance, a group of organisations in the pub and brewing sector, has started a campaign called Long Live the Local with a petition and calls for people to write to their MP to have beer duty reduced.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “We are calling on the Government to cut beer duty in the upcoming November budget.

“Seven in ten alcoholic drinks sold in a pub are beer, so cutting beer duty is the most direct way of helping pubs. This is why we are backing the Long Live the Local campaign to cut beer tax.”

A spokesperson for the Treasury said: “90% of pubs across the country can benefit from the business rates relief introduced at Budget 2017, which could save them up to £1,000 a year.

“In addition, both businesses and their customers have saved around £3 billion since 2013 thanks to changes to alcohol duty.”

Pub numbers have been in decline in the UK for many years. Since 2010, 5,745 have shut their doors for good, according to the ONS.

In Worthing the numbers have fluctuated over recent years. For a number of years there were 55 in the area.

A change in consumer habits, with people drinking at home more often, has been blamed for fewer people visiting pubs.

Ms Simmonds said that many now offered much more than just a drink.

She said: “Pubs have responded to changing drinking habits with a more diverse offering, such as coffee, live music, wifi, creating experiences and food. Pubs now serve one billion meals a year and are at the forefront of modern British cooking. They also have 50,000 bedrooms.”

CAMRA, the campaign for real ale, said that pubs play a vital role in communities.

Tom Stainer, the chief communications officer, said: “In many areas and villages, they provide the last remaining public meeting space, with meeting halls and post offices already lost.

“They also create jobs and bring money into local areas, which tend to be spent in the local area, as compared to large chain cafes. Many pubs help to support the night time economy in town centres and create safer communities after nightfall.”

There are 21 areas of the country that have bucked the decline and have more pubs now than they had in 2010. Top of the list is East London hipster hangout Hackney, which has a thriving nightlife fuelled, in part, by craft beer. It had 55 more bars in 2017 than it did in 2010.

To avoid identifying individual pubs, the ONS has rounded the numbers.