From the Welsh Assembly:
Nick Bourne AM, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, today launched his “Save our Pubs” campaign by highlighting the problems faced by publicans in Wales.
Nick Bourne said, “I am mindful of the important role that pubs play in our communities and I am fully aware of the impact changes to alcohol duty have had on the pub trade.
I was particularly concerned to learn that research conducted by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has found that many local pubs are struggling and around 1,300 pubs nationwide are currently under threat of closure.
In these difficult economic times many publicans who live in their commercial properties are faced with eviction due to their mortgage arrears.
Commercial mortgage payers are not covered by the mortgage rescue plan and they are not allowed mortgage holidays. I believe this is extremely unfair on people who have ploughed their assets into their business which is also their home.
In his Pre-Budget Report the Chancellor announced plans to increase alcohol duties in order to help pay for the temporary reduction in VAT. This will add about four pence onto the cost of every pint in pubs.
Meanwhile, drinks bought in supermarkets have had their VAT reduced.
At a time of economic uncertainty and rising costs across the board, I appreciate that for many people the cost of pint at their local pub is becoming increasingly expensive at a time when their disposable income is being squeezed.
I believe that a much better approach would be to specifically target those drinks associated with binge drinking. Last March, the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, proposed a revenue-neutral package of changes to alcohol taxation. This comprised tax increases on problem drinks combined with tax cuts on those which have lower alcohol content, such as beer and cider. Similar schemes have proved effective in other countries and have been backed by medical experts and alcohol charities.
I also believe it is time to extend mortgage relief schemes, such as payment holidays, to commercial mortgage payers to help our pubs survive in this difficult economic climate.”