Camra calls for Government help as almost 30 pubs close every week

Campaigners are calling on the Government to help publicans keep establishments open

Kashmira Gander
Monday 03 March 2014 15:06 GMT

28 pubs close “unnecessarily” every week according to campaigners who have called for the Government to do more to help publicans.

New research shows that closures have increased by two pubs a week since last year, according to The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) who compiled the results.

Camra has urged the Government to help prevent pubs closures by setting up a pub watchdog to protect licensees from high rents and beer prices controlled by large pub companies.

The so-called tied pub model, under which licensees have to buy supplies from a large pub company or “pubco”, has come under increased criticism, as 57 per cent of licensees operating under these circumstances earn less than £10,000 a year.

The Government should also close planning “loopholes” that make it possible to convert a pub into a betting shop, pay-day loan store or supermarket without the need for planning permission, because they make it “far too easy” for valued community pubs to be lost, Camra said.

The organisation is also campaigning for ministers to freeze the rate of beer duty in next month's Budget after over 5,000 Camra members contacted their MPs last week.

The closed down Prince Albert public house in Ashford, Kent

Mike Benner, Camra's chief executive said: “Pubs are unnecessarily closing as tied licensees struggle to make their businesses succeed thanks to increased rents and inflated beer prices.

"It is vital that the Government step in to redress the balance with the implementation of an independent pubs watchdog and an option for licensees of large pub companies to opt for market-rent-only agreements, allowing them to buy beer on the open market at cheaper prices."

Mr Benner added: "Britons pay the second highest rate of beer duty in the European Union which puts the pubs sector under pressure. We were delighted when the Chancellor cut beer duty in last year's Budget and are urging him to build on this with a freeze or further reduction this year."

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Local pubs are part of the social and cultural fabric of this nation and we are determined to protect them. That's why we are cutting taxes for small community pubs by doubling small business rate relief for three and a half years, and reducing corporation tax to 20%.

“We have also called time on the unpopular beer tax, cutting a penny off a pint, which is good news for pubs and punters alike.

”On top of this, the Community Right to Bid is already giving local people the power to step in and save their treasured pub from closure, with 300 now registered as community assets.“

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