Commenting on figures published by Altus Group showing that pub numbers in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest on record, Chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale Nik Antona said:
“These new figures are shocking if not surprising as our locals continue to face rising costs, sky high energy bills, unfair business rates and customers tightening their belts.
“If we are to save more of our beloved pubs and social clubs from being lost as community hubs then we desperately need the Chancellor to use the Autumn Statement in November to extend help for licensees with business rates which is due to end in April next year. Governments across the UK also need to reform and replace the deeply unfair business rates systems to give pubs a fighting chance of surviving and thriving.
“On the back of the Crooked House affair, we are also calling on the Westminster government to strengthen planning laws to make sure councils in England can protect pubs and require them to be converted back to their original use – or rebuilt brick by brick – if they are unlawfully converted or demolished.
“The Government’s plans for High Street Rental Auctions to get high street premises in England back into use also needs to exclude converting high street pubs to other uses.
“The Welsh Government urgently needs to introduce protections for pubs in the planning system where there are currently none so that local people can have a fighting chance of saving their pub from being demolished or converted into the likes of a shop, housing or a take-away.”