Edinburgh pubs: The Auld Hoose announces sudden closure citing no government support as ‘final nail in the coffin’

The small business in Edinburgh’s Southside said the decision to close was cemented after the Scottish Government’s recent Budget
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A beloved pub in Edinburgh’s Southside has announced its sudden closure, citing the Government’s failure to provide tax relief to small businesses as the ‘final nail in the coffin’.

The Auld Hoose on St Leonard’s Street was a popular pub for decades, selling traditional pub food and a wide selection of ales, beers and spirits whilst enjoying a loyal customer base. The cosy pub was also unofficially recognised as having the best jukebox in Edinburgh and home of the largest nachos in town.

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But rising utility costs and the Scottish Government’s decision to not provide business rates relief to small businesses has forced owners of The Auld Hoose to close their doors ‘until further notice.’

The Auld Hoose on 23-25 St Leonard's Street announced its sudden closure this weekThe Auld Hoose on 23-25 St Leonard's Street announced its sudden closure this week
The Auld Hoose on 23-25 St Leonard's Street announced its sudden closure this week

Writing on social media, The Auld Hoose owners said: “That’s all for now folks, The Auld Hoose will remain closed until further notice.” They also thanked all their staff and regulars who have supported them over the years.

They said: “The cost of living crisis, surging utility costs, and food and drink inflation has made this small business challenging at best. Unfortunately the final straw has been the decision by the Scottish Government to not pass on the business rates relief that our friends in England enjoy. As a long-standing member of the SNP I find their current stance on this matter extremely disappointing.

“What would seem to be an anti business coalition with the Greens will put the final nail into the coffins of many small businesses such as mine. It’s also worth pointing out the UK has one of the highest VAT rates on hospitality in Europe. We already knew the UK government doesn't care about Hospitality, seems the Scot gov is worse.”

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They added: “I'm hoping the Government is listening, time for action.”

Earlier in the month Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary, Shona Robison, delivered her first Budget in what she described as ‘turbulent circumstances.’ Ms Robison outlined plans to prioritise health care and social security funding in place of supporting the hospitality sector via business tax cuts.

The Budget 2024-2025, that was unveiled on December 19, pledged to deliver £6.3 billion for social security benefits, £13.2 billion for frontline NHS boards, record funding of more than £14 billion for local government, £400 million to support the fire service, more than £1.5 billion for policing.

The Scottish Government opted to choose a different path from that of the UK Government when it came to supporting the hospitality sector, where small businesses in England and Wales eligible for the UK Government scheme would enable them to get 75 per cent off their business rates bills for the 2023 to 2024 billing year.

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Finance Secretary, Shona Robison, said: “I have considered very carefully the steps that I can take that support business – while ensuring that we have the funding necessary to protect public services. While the UK Government may be happy to provide tax cuts on the back of real terms cuts to their NHS, I am not.

“Because let us be clear, if I spent every penny of consequentials on business relief and tax cuts, that would mean a real terms cut to our NHS and other vital public services – just as the UK Government has done.”

Ms Robison added: “We choose investment in our people and public services. This is a Budget that reflects our shared values as a nation and speaks to the kind of Scotland that we want to be.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government will always be open and honest with the public about the choices it has made.

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“There have been calls to replicate non-domestic rates retail, hospitality and leisure relief available to businesses in England. While Scottish Ministers are sympathetic to these calls, doing so would have meant that the Scottish Government could not provide the NHS, schools, or emergency services with the funding they require.

“This situation results from what the Deputy First Minister has described as a “worst case scenario” UK Government Autumn Statement, which failed to provide the investment needed in services and infrastructure, reflecting the UK’s economic circumstances after Brexit.

“The Scottish Government will continue to do all it can to support businesses. In 2024-25, the Basic Property Rate, applying to properties with rateable values up to and including £51,000, will be frozen, delivering the lowest such rate in the UK for the sixth year in a row. The Small Business Bonus Scheme offering up to 100% relief from non-domestic rates will be maintained and will continue to be available to over 100,000 properties. 100% rates relief will also be available for hospitality businesses in island communities, capped at £110,000 per ratepayer.”

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