Support your local pub (if you’ve still got one)

Britain’s community pubs have been closing at an unprecedented rate in recent months. And all too often, in the debate about the small minority of premises that give the trade a bad name, we forget all the good work that pubs do in their local communities. Local pubs do a great job in raising money for charity and good causes, acting as the heart of their community, and drawing tourists to Britain.

However, there is genuine concern about excessive alcohol consumption, particularly that caused by people buying large quantities of very cheap alcohol from supermarkets and off-licences, and the impact that this is having on behaviour in public places. I share those anxieties, but I do not believe that year-on-year, above-inflation tax increases on beer are the solution to the problem. That is why the Liberal Democrats tabled amendments to the House of Commons Finance Bill to try and prevent these increases.

I am concerned that these rises in beer duty will harm pubs which are already struggling in difficult economic circumstances. There is also little evidence to suggest that these higher taxes will have a significant impact on binge drinking.

Much of the binge drinking that takes place is fuelled by people drinking very cheap alcohol from supermarkets before they go out. This is why the Liberal Democrats have proposed introducing a social minimum price for alcohol to prevent supermarkets from selling alcohol below cost price. This would have the advantage of targeting irresponsible retailers rather than applying a blanket tax hike across the industry, which disproportionately affects pubs.

It’s good to see the pub trade, working with the consumer body CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), fighting back. Today sees the launch of a new campaign called ‘Axe The Beer Tax – Save the Pub’. Given the strength of feeling among pub goers and the trade, this campaign needs support, to make it clear to the Government that pubs need a break from endless tax increases and new red tape. The campaign website is at www.axethebeertax.com. I wish it well.

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9 Comments

  • David Morton 27th Nov '08 - 12:29pm

    These are very,very broad judgements about private behaviour. If I want to enjoy a bargain can of lager in my own home with friends then you’ll use state power to artificially enforce cost price. However if i want to go to local super pub and get trashed till 3 in the morning then you’ll campaign to stop/reverse a tax hike on my pint of lager ?

    Of course its another piece of Public Health legislation ( the smoking ban ) that has caused most of the very recent problems with pubs in the first place.

  • I go to pubs which have real ale, single malt, & an atmosphere which is a USP. I don’t go to dens of idiocy which sell lager, are infested with chavs, & blare out moronic TV programmes.

    They know what to do if they want my custom & that of millions like me, which is to raise standards. I won’t shed any tears over the moronic PubCos run by spivs.

    It is not complicated.

  • My parents ran a pub when I was a kid, and it was one of ten in a village of about six thousand people. The last time I was there, about ten years ago, there were still six left, but I found out recently that as of August this year there are none left at all now.

    The consensus seems to be that the fault lies mainly with the breweries who bought them all up one by one and them charged tenant landlords such high rents that the pubs weren’t viable, and then the smoking ban finally killed off the rest.

  • It’s also worth considering Don that those who binge drink and as a result are antisocial are more likely to be from the younger element of society. Many of whom still probably live at home paying a few quid in board to their parents.It doesn’t make one jot of difference to them if the price of a beer goes up 10,20,30 pence. Your average working man is the one who suffers.

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