Tuesday 11 March 2008

Pub Closures

The Campaign for Real Ale is calling for a tax cut on beer in Wednesday’s Budget to help prevent community pub closures following the results of a survey released today which reveals that the number of pubs closed permanently has increased to 57 a month. The survey suggests that almost one third (31%) of pubs closed permanently are being demolished, while 36% are converted to shops, cafes and restaurants and 33% to some other use, mostly residential.

CAMRA is calling for a one penny cut in beer tax in the Budget to help stop unnecessary pub closures due to rising costs and falling beer sales. Beyond the Budget, the consumer group is also seeking changes to planning law to prevent pub demolitions and change of use from pubs to shops, cafes and restaurants without planning permission.

Mike Benner, CAMRA’s Chief Executive, said, “Britain’s pubs provide an essential amenity for communities and a place for people to enjoy alcohol sociably in a regulated environment, yet the Government’s high tax policies coupled with increasing costs are crippling them. We need to see action immediately to stop the number of pub closures spiralling out of control making it impossible for many people to benefit from the amenity of a local pub. A ‘rescue plan’ for community pubs is required and we hope the Government will begin that process with a one penny tax cut on a pint of beer on Wednesday.”

Sixty-eight CAMRA volunteer branches across the UK provided figures for their areas which show the staggering levels of pub closures. The survey is based on closures recorded throughout 2007, so the effects of the smoking ban introduced last year are not yet fully evident. The consumer group also claims that pubs are faced with unprecedented increases in costs as beer prices are expected to rise due to hop and malt shortages.

Mr Benner added, “Pub beer prices have increased above inflation over the last ten years and the Chancellor must give beer a break. Supermarket beer prices, on the other hand, have actually fallen in real terms, often making beer cheaper than bottled water. Supermarkets can absorb tax rises while small pub operators can’t and the clear effect of this is to drive consumers away from the pub and into their armchair to drink cheap alcohol. We want the Government to recognise that the great British pub is the solution to Britain’s binge drinking problems and we need policies and action to support them, not close them.”

A survey commissioned by CAMRA in December 2007 shows that 27% of people who prefer to drink at home said price was the main influence on their decision. The survey also revealed that 72% of people agree that it is unfair that responsible drinkers have to pay for an irresponsible minority through high taxes. 68% of adults agree that a pub is a responsible place to drink alcohol.

We need action now before last orders ring for the British pub

Mr Benner added, “Recent calls from the BMA and others for significant increases in alcohol excise duties are misguided and would be ineffective in combating binge drinking. Higher taxes will kill British pubs, force drinking underground and fuel smuggling and cross-border shopping. We need action now before last orders ring for the British pub.”

Notes for editors

The survey shows that 1567 pubs were closed with an uncertain future during 2007
Beer production in the UK declined by 6% during 2007 and the proportion of beer consumed in pubs is in long term decline.
CAMRA’s first Pub Watch survey, carried out in 2006, showed that 56 pubs a month were closing with 1320 closed with an uncertain future.
CAMRA has issued ‘Cut Beer Tax Now’ postcards to its 90,000 consumer members and to 30,000 pubs. The cards will be sent to the Chancellor in support of the campaign.
A one penny increase in beer tax would typically add five or ten pence to the price of a pint in a pub, while supermarkets can usually absorb increases.
The Government cut cider duty in 2002 followed by freezes over the subsequent four budgets. This action, devised to support the ailing cider sector, has helped revitalise cider sales in the UK
The UK already has the highest rate of excise duty on beer in the European Union.
Excise duty on beer has increased by 26.7% in the last ten years compared to 16% for wine, 11% for cider and only 3% for spirits
Pubs are defined in the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 as ‘public services’
CAMRA’s survey, carried out by TNS in December 2007, also found:

72% of people agree that it is unfair that responsible drinkers have to pay for an irresponsible minority.
68% of people agree that a pub is a responsible place to drink.
A 10% increase in pub prices would lead to 21% of current pub goers drinking more at home.
45% of people now drink at home, and purchase low-cost alcohol, often used as a loss-leader by supermarkets. 27% of people who prefer to drink at home said price was the main influence on their decision to drink at home.
Beer is still the preferred drink in pubs. 47% of us prefer beer. This rises to 61% for people who use pubs at least once a week

For media enquiries call:

CAMRA Press Office 01727 798443
Mike Benner 07971 591224
Iain Loe 07801 706607
Tony Jerome 07736 948186
Jonathan Mail 07720 724733

1 comment:

Gareth said...

Will you support the campaign to get Alistair Darling banned from every pub in Britain?

Simply print off the poster and get your landlord to put it up in your local.


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