Suffolk has lost nearly a fifth of its pubs in past 10 years

The White Lion pub in Newmarket closed in 2017 

The White Lion pub in Newmarket closed in 2017 - Credit: Google Maps

The number of pubs in Suffolk has fallen by nearly 20% over the past decade, revealing figures have shown. 

The county has seen 121 pubs shut their doors permanently since 2012, with the future of a further 39, which are currently closed, remaining uncertain, according to Suffolk's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) organisation. 

A total of 647 pubs are currently open in Suffolk, with a further eight closed venues likely to reopen again soon, but the dwindling numbers put the challenges faced by the industry firmly in the spotlight. 

After struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, pubs looking to bounce back are now facing soaring prices and higher energy costs. 

Nationally, the number of pubs in England and Wales has hit its lowest level on record, dropping below 40,000  a loss of more than 7,000 over the past decade. 

Pubs that have disappeared from communities have been demolished or converted into other buildings like homes and offices, research from real estate consultancy Altus Group showed. 

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce called on the government to provide more support. 

Paul Simon from the Suffolk Chamber

Paul Simon, from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said more can be done to help pubs - Credit: Nicky West Photography/Suffolk Chamber

Paul Simon, head of public affairs and strategic communications at Suffolk Chamber, said: “Many Suffolk-based hospitality businesses have experienced extremely challenging trading conditions over the last few years, with pubs also having to adapt to longer-term shifts in consumer spending habits.

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“Suffolk Chamber believes that more can be done to help good pub businesses during the next 12 months, including a reduction in VAT on energy bills and a reversal of the recent increase in NI employer contributions.

"In the longer term, we would like the government to deliver on its manifesto commitment for a full review of the business rates system which in too many cases penalises smaller town centre firms, including pubs and acts as an disincentive to invest in new facilities and equipment.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "When pubs are forced to close it's a huge loss to the local community, and these numbers paint a devastating picture of how pubs are being lost in villages, towns and cities across the country.

"As a sector we have just weathered the hardest two years in memory, and we now face the challenge of extreme rising costs, with only one in three hospitality businesses currently profitable.

"It's essential that we receive relief to ease these pressures or we really do risk losing more pubs year on year."

The government said it had continued to support the hospitality industry but could not control the "global factors" pushing up inflation. 

A spokesman added that taxes for hundreds of thousands of businesses had been cut by increasing the Employment Allowance and that a 50% business rates relief for eligible high street firms had been introduced. 

In the past week, pub bosses have also warned of the impact of rail strikes on sales for hospitality firms, adding to the existing problems of price increases and waning consumer demand.

The founder of City Pub Group in London, Clive Watson, said in June that he could have lost as much as 25% of usual sales as industrial action led people to cancel outings.