Rates demand

Scottish pubs closing at twice the rate of England

More pubs will close without rates relief support say sector leaders (pic: Terry Murden)

Hospitality leaders say the failure of the Scottish Government to adopt generous rates relief measures in England has contributed to twice as many pubs closing in Scotland compared to the closure rate south of the border.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association
(SLTA) have joined forces in calling for the sector to benefit from a 75% rates cut announced by UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Scottish Finance Secretary is facing similar calls to introduce the cut for the financial year 2024-25 in this month’s Holyrood Budget. The Scottish Government has previously argued that it offers other reliefs not available in England.

Pub groups point to double the rate of closures in Scotland (1.7%) compared with England (0.75%) and say the rates differential is a key factor.

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.”

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