Scotland’s Pubs & Bars Closing At Twice The Rate Of That In England

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) have joined forces, calling on the Scottish Government to pass on funding for their sector following the UK Chancellor’s Autumn Statement which will see English businesses receive a 75% reduction in rates bills in the financial year 2024-25.

Pubs elsewhere in the UK benefited from the reduction last year. However, the Scottish Government chose not to pass on the reduction – despite Barnett consequentials being given to the Holyrood administration. That has resulted in permanent closures in the sector accelerating at double the rate in Scotland (1.7%) than in England (0.75%).

In a joint-statement, the SBPA and SLTA said: “The failure to pass on rates relief last year was a devastating blow for Scotland’s pubs and bars and has resulted in a record number of permanent closures. Already in 2023, with a quarter still to go, permanent closures are more than one-third higher than the whole of last year and double the closure rates across the remainder of the UK.

“Many businesses are still saddled with debt incurred during the pandemic and have been unable to recover with the increased financial pressures in the aftermath, including sky-high energy prices, inflationary pressures and impacts to supply chains.

“The next financial year will also see increased costs in the form of wages, with increases to minimum wages, which will need to be paid for directly by businesses. The rates relief in England will help businesses there with this increased cost, but unless the Scottish Government passes on the support, pubs and bars north of the border will be left to entirely fend for themselves and the rate of closures will only increase.

“The Scottish Government must ensure that the rates relief is passed on in full or it will cement further closures in the sector, directly resulting in job losses and blows for communities across the country.”