The number of pubs in the UK could have almost halved by 2050 according to AI, as campaigners plead for changes from the government.
The news comes after it was revealed by theAltus Groupnearly 400 pubs called time for good in England and Wales in the first half of 2023. This was nearly as many as shut in the whole of 2022. The number of closures has caused concerns about the industry, and it’s something that has led advocacy groups to call for drastic change.
Speaking to the Daily Star, campaign director for the Campaign for Pubs Greg Mulholland explained how there is hope in the industry that things could take a turn for the best, but only provided it gets the “the right support and environment from the government”. But despite this, the rate of decline in pubs has been something that has been brewing since the turn of the century.
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According to data fromStatista, there were around 60,000 pubs in the UK in 2000 but by 2020, that number was down to 46,800. If that pattern continues, rough calculations indicate that the number of pubs in the UK could take a massive hit over the 27 years, and could see our boozer count drop to around 25,000.
This massive decline would mean that in the first half of the 21st Century, the number of pubs in the UK could have been sythed down by nearly two-thirds at the 2000 to 2020 rate. This works out as an average of 700 pub closures per year between 2000 and 2050.
This calculation of course doesn't take into account real-world factors and in the words of the AI that did it it is, “a very simplified estimate, and real-world trends can be influenced by numerous unpredictable factors.” But with 383 known to have shuttered in the first half of this year, fears have been raised that for this year at least we are on track for the dreaded 700 per year.
However, according to Greg there is still hope, although it is entirely dependent on getting the right support from the government. This, however, is something that has been lacking so far.
He says “The single biggest problem for most pubs has been the astronomical level of energy bills and the relief provided by the UK Government has been completely inadequate – very, very limited.”
He added: “I mean, it's important to say that, that we are confident that we'll get through this if they’re properly supported.”
Greg said he hoped the, “international situation will get better and we hope that inflation will be brought properly under control by the right type of economic policies, whether that's by this government or the next government.
“Pubs really are crying out for more direct support from the government at the moment to get through this crisis but we feel that is falling on deaf ears.”
Making the demands from Campaign for Pubs, he added: “All we really hear is platitudes tinkering around the edges rather than the kinds of measures that are really needed. Which is to be bold and cut VAT to show confidence in pubs and hospitality in general and send a clear message to consumers that they can go and spend their limited income in pubs”.
Greg reckons that whether the AI 2050 prophecy comes true or not is all down to support. “We certainly hope it won't happen. We believe that it need not happen if we get the right kind of change in the Sector.”
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