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Press Release


Action needed as hundreds of pubs have failed to re-open, CAMRA figures show

In response to pub closure figures for 2021, the Campaign for Real Ale calls for a VAT cut, changes to business rates systems and a new online sales tax to help give our locals a boost 

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has released its pub closure statistics for 2021 and is calling for intervention from government to protect the great British pub. 

The figures released today show that across Great Britain last year 290 pubs were demolished or converted to another use – an average of just over five a week.  

There was an uptick in the number of new pubs being built, or existing buildings being converted into pubs, averaging just over seven new pubs opening every week in the second half of the year. 

However, over 500 pubs were also classed as a ‘long term closure’ in 2021, where the building is still classed as a pub for planning purposes, but the business itself has closed or is empty and without tenants to run it, showing the lasting effects of the pandemic, and the present cost of business crisis.  

The Campaign has highlighted a number of steps that Government across the UK should take in response to the report, and to the cost of living crisis, including: 

  • An immediate cut in VAT for on trade food and drink sales, to help both businesses and consumers 
  • Introducing an Online Sales Tax, with the funds raised directed to relieve the grossly unfair rates burden on the pub and hospitality sector 
  • Using the upcoming Statutory Pubs Code Review to bring more tied tenants into the scope of the Pubs Code for England and Wales; and making sure a robust Scottish Pubs Code is introduced later this year to offer protections for tied tenants in Scotland for the first time 
  • Bringing forward the introduction of the new draught duty rate for beer and cider, confirming that it will apply to containers of 20L and over 
  • Confirming the retention of the duty exemption for small cider makers making under 70HL of product a year 

Commenting, CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said: 

“These figures show that whilst there is some encouraging news about new pubs opening in 2021, there is still a big problem with pub businesses not re-opening after the pandemic.  

“With the cost of living crisis affecting consumers, and the cost of business crisis facing our pubs, brewers and cider makers, we are really concerned that this positive news from our 2021 figures will turn into a nightmare report for 2022.  

“Pubs are not only vital employers, but they are key to community life up and down the country – bringing people together and tackling loneliness and social isolation. Government across the UK must do more to make sure pub businesses can survive the cost of business crisis, and that consumers can still support their local pubs at a time when household budgets are being squeezed. 

“CAMRA is doing our bit, with our Summer of Pub campaign rallying people to support their locals at every possible opportunity, but we need also need action from political leaders. The UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments must take action to safeguard the future of the Great British pub so they can continue to play their part at the heart of community life in the years to come. 

“That’s why CAMRA is calling for a cut in VAT for food and drink served in pubs and the introduction of fairer business rates systems which desperately need designing so that pubs are taxed fairly – together with an online sales tax so online businesses pay their fair share too.” 


Notes to editors 


CAMRA Pub Closure Figures (GB) – 2021 

These figures are provided in 6-month periods and cover England, Scotland, and Wales. 

All data comes from whatpub.com – the Campaign for Real Ale’s pub database. 

Net Closure Figures – All GB 

These reflect the total change in the number of buildings in pub use. 

Period  Closures  Openings  Net change  Net change per week 
July-December 2021  145  190  +45  +1.7 
January-June 2021  145  74  -71  -2.7 


Permanent Pub Closures 

These reflect where a pub building has been converted or demolished. 

Period  Closures  Per week 
July-December 2021  145  5.6 
January-June 2021  145  5.6 


New Pub Openings  

These reflect where a new pub has been built or a building converted to become one. 

Period  Openings  Per week  Conversions  New builds 
July-December 2021  190  7.3  174  16 
January-June 2021  74  2.8  63  11 


Long Term Closures 

These reflect where pub buildings have closed for business, or are empty without tenants, for a long period of time. These are not permanent closures, as the buildings remain classed as pubs in planning terms.  

Period  Closures logged as long term  Per week 
July-December 2021  254  9.8 
January-June 2021  251  9.7 


Breakdown by nation 

July-December 2021 

Nation  Permanent closures  Conversions  New builds  Total openings  Net change  Per week 
England  131  160  14  174  +43  +1.7 
Scotland  10  6  2  8  -2  -0.08 
Wales  4  8  0  8  +4  +0.2 


January-June 2021 

Nation  Permanent closures  Conversions  New builds  Total openings  Net change  Per week 
England  131  59  10  69  -62  -2.4 
Scotland  7  2  1  3  -4  -0.2 
Wales  7  2  0  2  -5  -0.2 


Breakdown by England regions 

July-December 2021 

Region  Permanent closures  Conversions  New builds  Total openings  Net change 
East Midlands  10  14  0  14  +4 
East of England  7  3  1  4  -3 
Greater London  12  20  6  26  +14 
North East  1  0  0  0  -1 
North West  46  33  2  35  -11 
South East  23  24  2  26  +3 
South West  11  12  0  12  +1 
West Midlands  13  13  0  13  0 
Yorkshire and the Humber  8  41  3  44  +36 


January-June 2021 

Region  Permanent closures  Conversions  New builds  Total openings  Net change 
East Midlands  5  2  0  2  -3 
East of England  9  0  0  0  -9 
Greater London  18  15  5  20  +2 
North East  8  2  1  3  -5 
North West  28  7  1  8  -20 
South East  22  8  1  9  -13 
South West  10  1  0  1  -9 
West Midlands  10  4  1  5  -5 
Yorkshire and the Humber  21  20  1  21  0 


 Permanent Pub Closures (GB) – pre-2021 

These reflect permanent pub closures before 2021 – where the pub has been demolished or converted from pub use to another use.  

We do not have new pub opening figures for the same time period, so we cannot provide net figures for these periods. 

Period  Closures  Per week 
July-December 2020  161  6.2 
January-June 2020  161  6.2 
July-December 2019  172  6.6 
January-June 2019  271  10.4 
July-December 2018  184  7.1 
January-June 2018  264  10.2 
July-December 2017  254  9.8 
January-June 2017  412  15.8 
July-December 2016  257  9.9 
January-June 2016  364  14.0 


About CAMRA:   

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 160,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community.   

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