ABOUT 6,000 pubs across the UK may close in the next five years if they do not take steps to address the impact of the smoking ban and squeeze on consumer spend, a financial firm has warned.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also said that in the remainder of this year, as many as 2,000 pubs could be vulnerable to closure.

Just over a year after the UKwide smoking ban was imposed by the Government, PwC has reiterated last year's prediction that 5,000 pubs would close by 2012.

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Last year, 1,400 pubs closed across the country, double the number that closed in 2006.

Sean Hamilton, business recovery services director at PwC in Newcastle, said: "Since our original prediction last year, the rate of pub closures has accelerated.

"We now expect to see 6,000 pubs closing by 2012.

"The UK currently has 76,000 pubs - 10,000 of which are believed to be loss making, so the 6,000 is only just over half of the loss makers."