In Scotland, the pub and bar industry is facing a crisis, with closures happening at a rate significantly higher than in England. The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) have reported a worrying trend, revealing that 76 pubs shut down in Scotland between Q1 and Q3 of this year, a steep increase from the 56 closures in 2022. This marks a closure rate in Scotland of 1.7%, compared to just 0.75% in England, indicating that Scottish establishments are closing at twice the pace.
The industry associations are urgently appealing to the Scottish Government for financial support. They are advocating for the same level of relief that English businesses are set to receive following Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement. English businesses are due for a 75% cut in rates bills in the next financial year. This relief was previously extended to pubs in other parts of the UK. Still, the Scottish Government refrained from implementing it last year. The SBPA and SLTA have described this decision as a "devastating blow" to the Scottish pub and bar sector.
The issue is that many Scottish pubs are grappling with debts incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. With rising energy costs and supply chain challenges, these establishments find it increasingly difficult to stay afloat. The upcoming minimum wage increase is expected to strain these businesses more.
The SBPA and SLTA's joint statement highlighted the critical need for government intervention. Without the rate relief passed on by the Scottish government, pubs and bars in Scotland will face even greater challenges, potentially leading to more closures, job losses, and negative impacts on local communities. The industry bodies are calling for immediate action to prevent further deterioration of this vital sector.
We welcome your thoughts and opinions on this pressing issue. How do you think these closures will impact local communities and the Scottish economy? Please share your views in the comments below.