Thursday, 30 January 2020 17:04

Wiltshire's pub trade sees first rise in more than a decade Featured

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More new pubs opened their door to drinkers in Wiltshire last year, figures reveal, in the first increase for more than a decade.

Industry bodies have cautiously welcomed the first rise in the number of premises across the UK for 12 years, but have called for tax breaks to ensure the survival of the “great British pub”.

Office for National Statistics data shows that the pumps were pouring at around 390 public houses in Wiltshire in 2019 – an estimated 25 more than in the previous year.

This was the first increase since 2007, when the figure stood at 580.

The introduction of the smoking ban in 2007, the impact of the Great Recession and a rise in alcohol duty in 2008 have all been blamed for landlords calling last orders over the last decade.

Across the UK, a 1 per cent rise in the numbers of establishments last year to just over 39,000 was the first increase since 2007, when the figure stood at 51,000.

The number of small pubs – those with fewer than 10 employees – also rose for the first time since 2002.

National chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale Nik Antona “cautiously” welcomed the fact that pubs – especially smaller ones – appeared to be bouncing back after years of closures.

“Unfortunately pubs continue to close across the country, particularly in small or rural communities,” he said.

“This means the loss of the social, cultural and economic benefits that come with a well-run local.”

CAMRA is calling on the Government to review business rates and lower the tax rate on beer sold in pubs.

Mr Antona added: “We urge that these asks are reflected in the forthcoming Budget to help save the great British pub.”

The British Beer and Pub Association agreed, saying that “policy makers have a great opportunity in the March Budget to help pubs flourish”.

While the number of locals across the country has dropped in the long-term, there are more employees working in pubs on average than a decade ago.

In 2007, the average pub in the UK employed five people. Now, the figure stands at eight.

In Wiltshire, a similar trend has been seen, with the average pub employing nine staff in 2019, up from five in 2007.

A Treasury spokesman said: “Small pubs and bars are part of the heart and soul of our communities – so it’s great news they are on the rise.

“We’re committed to giving them support, which is why we will be cutting their bills in half through the business rates retail discount plus further support with a new pubs relief.”

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