Preston pubs struggling to survive as government policies hit hard

Susan Carr has seen a lot during her time as owner of The Variety pub on Adelphi Street. She has been the landlady for more than 11 years.

But now, she and may other pub owners face a difficult time in the industry as setbacks force many watering holes to close.

“It’s probably the worst it’s ever been. For most pubs it’s dire, absolutely dire,” said Mrs Carr.

She believes government changes, including raising beer tax above inflation levels and failing to stop supermarkets selling alcohol at cheaper prices, haven’t helped.

“Before this, we had the smoking ban which has hit us harder than anyone is admitting. It’s really affected our trade,” she added.

The latest figures show that 25 pubs on average close each week in Britain. Apart from London, the North West is the worst affected area.

Nationwide, pubs are struggling to cope with higher costs while losing customers. Most breweries have had to raise their prices, putting many out of business.

The Dolphin Inn in Longton may be the next to go. Despite being a popular stop for walkers, it simply cannot make ends meet. Owner Olivia Hale says the state of the industry means there is no easy fix.

She said: “The pub trade has just gone really quiet. As long as people keep coming in we’ll be ok, but that’s getting harder.”

The landlady applied for planning permission to build houses in case they need to sell.

“We’re not planning to shut just yet, but it’s as a last resort. It’s all been too much at once and we’ve struggled to deal with the changes.”

Difficulties in the industry led to thousands of job losses, according to the British Beer and Pub Association, which estimates  it contributes £21bn to the economy.

“These figures show what a huge impact beer and pubs have, especially in terms of jobs. Beer is vital to the economy and pubs are the heart of our communities,” said chief executive Brigid Simmons.

Last year 1,300 pubs closed nationwide, with 13,000 job losses.

Susan Carr by NClapp

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