Pubs are in 'survival mode' as Wales cuts business rates relief, says Llandudno landlord

  • ITV Wales journalist Marina Jenkins reports

Pubs, bars and restaurants are closing at a faster rate in Wales than any other part of the UK, according to new research.

Robin Fitzpatrick has been the landlord of The Cross Keys Inn in Penrhynside, Llandudno for 9 years, but he says running the pub is "the hardest it's ever been."

They're having to close once a week to mitigate costs.

He says that rising costs have "caused mayhem", and he's had to go into "survival mode", beginning to spend his rainy day fund.

As the local bus service has been cut recently, it's become harder for patrons to visit, something he says "could end" his business.

"It's making it harder and harder to exist."

But it's not just traditional businesses that are struggling, in Cardiff, a previously successful vegan cafe is also having to close.

Aaron Wong took over running Anna Loka from his father during the pandemic. He and his partner have put their "blood, sweat and tears" into the business, even "sacrificing their degrees" to keep it running.

He says simple ingredients like a bag of potatoes have increased from £8 to £35.

They're still going to run a pop-up shop in Penarth, and a van for festivals, but he says even that is getting more expensive.

Figures shared exclusively with ITV News show:

The figures from UK Hospitality have been revealed just weeks before the Welsh Government makes cuts to business rates. That will happen in April, with industry leaders warning it will accelerate closures.

The discount for retail, leisure and hospitality firms is set to be cut from 75% to 40% in the Welsh Government’s budget, which is due to be published next week.

The rate relief for premises in England will remain at 75%.

The British Beer and Pub Association says the cut will cost Welsh pubs £3m a year.

It warns the pub closure rate was already twice as high in Wales in 2023 as it was in England, with a pub closing on average every week.

Rebecca Evans Minister for Finance and Local Government says that the Welsh Government's budget is worth £1.3 million pounds less in real terms than when it was set, meaning tough decisions have to be made.

She says that the relief was a temporary measure that has been extended, so the 40% is a bonus for businesses that were expecting the relief to stop.

"We need to protect the things that matter the most to people in Wales, and that's the NHS and core frontline services, and that has meant tough decisions in the budget."

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