Slowdown in pubs vanishing from UK communities despite pandemic

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The number of pubs “vanishing” from UK towns and cities has slowed down despite the impact of coronavirus, in a major boost before they open their doors again next month.

An analysis of official Government data by real estate adviser Altus Group has revealed the number of UK pubs has “stabilised” over the past half-year.

The data showed the total number of pubs in England and Wales, including those vacant and to let, fell by just 228 to 40,835 over the first six months of 2020 despite the pandemic.

Pubs shut their doors in the face of the Government-mandated lockdown in March, with most forced to furlough staff and seek financial support to stay afloat.

It represented a fall in the number of pubs disappearing from local communities, with 238 pubs vanishing in the second half of 2019.

Pubs which vanish are largely being destroyed or being converted into other types of use, such as homes and offices.

Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group, says Government measures to support pubs during the period of lockdown have undoubtedly helped, but urged caution.

He said: “Pubs in England and Wales are receiving a one-year business rates holiday worth £768.12 million which started on April 1 as well being eligible for £557.94 million in grant funding.

“These interventions have gone a long way to saving our pubs ensuring that they can reopen safely.

“However, some change of use applications may have been held up due to delays in local planning whilst it also remains to be seen, once the first.”

A Government spokesman said: “Pubs are at the heart of our communities and today’s figures demonstrate how the steps we have taken to support them through the pandemic have been helping. However, we know there is no room for complacency.

“The Government has worked with the sector to develop guidance enabling pubs to reopen safely on July 4, and as part of our efforts to help our economy bounce back we’re making it easier for pubs to serve customers outside and to sell drinks for consumption off the premises.”

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