The Guide reports that when CAMRA was formed in the early 1970s, Britain had 75,000 pubs. The number is now fewer than 50,000, with more beer drunk at home than in the pub.
While there are a number of contributing factors to the decline over the years, the Guide describes how the new business rates revaluation introduced in 2017 is the latest “ticking time bomb” to devastate the sector.
Some of the increases, due to be phased in over a five-year period, are eye-watering. The Baum in Rochdale, CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year 2012 will see its rateable value increased by 377%. The Sandford Park Alehouse in Cheltenham, National Pub of the Year 2015, faces an increase of 181 per cent.
Significantly, many out-of-town supermarkets and stores based on industrial estates saw their rates reduced when the revaluation came in, while town centre pubs faced the brunt of the increases, a move that can only fuel the rate and level of pub closures.
Good Beer Guide Editor Roger Protz argues there is no replacement for the pub. He says: “The British pub is unique – it is rooted in our island’s history, dating from Roman and Saxon times. There is no better place for people to meet, enjoy a beer, strike up a conversation, make new friends and put the world to rights. Above all, the British pub, both ancient and modern, has character and an atmosphere that could never be replaced.”
The Campaign for Real Ale has recently launched a campaign calling for an annual £5,000 reduction in business rates for every pub across England. For more information and to take part, visit: http://www.camra.org.uk/keeppubsafloat