Now is the Time to Save our Pubs


CAMRA’s Chief Executive writes exclusively for On-Trade Progress:

This month Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce his Budget for the forthcoming year. While Brexit is undoubtedly at the top of the political agenda, we hope the Chancellor also throws a lifeline to Britain’s pubs, many of which support from the Government to ensure their continued survival.

The revaluation of business rates across England in April this year left many pubs with a massive new financial burden, which in some cases can only be covered by them selling tens of thousands of extra pints of beer every year. This is on top of an already onerous tax burden on pubs:

  • On average, each pub pays nearly £140,000 in taxes each year
  • Around 37% per cent of the total cost of a pint is now made up of taxes
  • The UK pays nearly 40% of all beer duty in the EU but only consumes around 12% of the beer

With more than a third of the cost of a pint made up of various taxes, and an additional business rates burden forcing some publicans to pull at least 33 extra pints per day, we are already seeing pubs having to increase their prices to unsustainable levels, and an increased likelihood of widespread pub closures.

You may recall that the Government introduced a one-off £1,000 discount scheme for some pubs in the last Budget. This was a great show of support – but it didn’t go far enough to address the problem. CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year in 2012, The Baum in Rochdale, will see its rateable value increased by 377%. The Sandford Park Alehouse in Cheltenham, National Pub of the Year 2015, faces an increase of 181%.

CAMRA is therefore calling on the Chancellor to help keep pubs afloat in this Budget by introducing a £5,000 annual reduction in their rocketing business rates and by introducing a freeze on beer duty for the whole of this Parliament. So far over 4,600 CAMRA members have written to their MP asking for their support for this campaign.

We also need publicans up and down the country to get behind this campaign to help keep pubs open and trading. Recent research by Oxford University showed that having a local pub is incredibly important to any person’s wellbeing and that people who regularly use a local pub have more close friends on whom they can call for support, are happier and more trusting of others and feel more engaged with their wider community. Yet pubs are closing at an alarming rate – we have lost 28,000 pubs since the 1970s and are currently experiencing an average net closure rate of 21 each week.

Our campaign is underlined by shocking research which demonstrates the dire situation pubs find themselves in. With the help of YouGov we have discovered that, of those who expressed an opinion:

  • More than two-thirds (69%) of people agreed that pubs should receive tax relief as they provide safe, managed places for people to get together and drink responsibly.
  • 55% of people believed that beer duty is too high at 54p per pint.
  • Just 15% of UK beer drinkers think that the price of a pint is affordable. The tradition of going to the pub is becoming an unaffordable luxury for the majority.

CAMRA presented its Budget submission, which included this evidence, to the Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of this November’s Budget and publicised these findings in the national newspapers to build up support for the campaign. We now need everyone, including publicans like you, to take part.

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