Horsham bucks national trend with town pubs

One of Horsham's 'lost' pubs - The Nelson
One of Horsham's 'lost' pubs - The Nelson

Although Horsham town has lost a number of pubs since 2001, it has a higher number per person than the national average, according to new statistics.

Latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis shows that in Horsham there are around 6.8 pubs per 10,000 people.

This is higher than the UK average of 5.8 pubs.

The report adds that around five pubs have closed in the town since 2001 but there are around 1,000 jobs in pubs and bars. This is 25% higher than in 2001.

The report ‘Economies of ale: small pubs close as chains focus on big bars’ looks at the overall picture.

More than 11,000 pubs have closed in the UK in the last decade – a fall of almost a quarter (23%).

ONS analysis shows that it’s small pubs that are disappearing, as the big pub chains consolidate their businesses around bigger bars.

In fact almost one in four UK pubs have closed since 2008.

Although lots of pubs have closed, the total turnover of pubs and bars has held up, remaining flat since 2008, once inflation is taken into account.

The remaining pubs and bars appear to have soaked up the custom from those pubs that have closed down.

Employment figures back this up: while the number of jobs in pubs dipped during the economic downturn, there are now 6% more jobs in pubs and bars than there were in 2008.

The largest increases have been in bigger pubs (those with 10 or more employees).

This may be because pubs are increasingly focussed on serving food as well as drink, which requires more waiting and kitchen staff.

The rise in employment has been more pronounced in rural pubs, where in 2018 total employment in England and Wales is up 17% compared with 2008. In contrast, total employment in urban pubs rose by only 4% over the same period.

Most jobs in the sector are low paid: around 70% of workers in pubs and bars are paid less than the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage. This rate, currently £10.55 per hour in London and £9 per hour elsewhere, is sometimes called the “real” living wage, and is based upon full-time workers being able to afford a basic set of goods and services.

The ONS says that most pubs in the UK are small, independently owned businesses – and it is mainly these kinds of pub that have closed over the last decade. But the number of independently-owned larger pubs is steadily rising.

Meanwhile, small pub chains, which are often regional, family-owned businesses, have also switched their focus away from small pubs towards medium and large bars.

And at the same time, the large “pubcos” (nationwide companies with 250 or more outlets) have almost completely abandoned small pubs, disposing of lots of them in the early 2000s, concentrating instead on their bigger bars.

See also: Vandals wreck railway fencing between Crawley and Horsham

How the tragic death of a little girl is proving an inspiration to others