CAMRA: 'Government failing community pubs'

By Adam Pescod

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Business rate relief, Pubs, Community pubs, Public house, Government

CAMRA: 'Government failing community pubs'
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has called for urgent Government action to save Britain’s historic pub culture in light of new research showing how 16 pubs on average now close across the country on a weekly basis.

This is up from an average of 14 closures per week in the first half of 2011.

CAMRA has expressed particular concern that Government policy is failing communities on the peripheries of Britain’s towns and cities, with half of these closures (8 a week) taking place in the nation’s suburbs.

The research, based on figures compiled by CGA strategy, discovered that in just two years, 1,078 pubs have been lost in suburban areas, with with beer tax hikes and deep alcohol discounting from supermarket chains bringing about a general decline in pub going by consumers.

Meanwhile, high street pubs are closing at a quarter of the rate – 2 per week – of suburban locals.

These figures coincide with a new report by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) into the social value of community pubs.

The IPPR report, available here​ highlights the need for a radical change in Government policy that recognises the important community function many pubs perform.

It recommendeds measures to provide vital support including a 50% business rate relief for pubs acting as ‘centres of a community’, reform of planning laws which prevent pubs from being demolished without the need for planning permission, and improving relations between large pub companies and their lessees to offer a guest beer option and an option to become ‘free of tie’ accompanied by an open market rent review.

Mike Benner, CAMRA chief executive, said: “While high street city centre venues are showing a degree of resistance in the current climate, both suburban and rural areas are under threat as wholesale pub closures deprive more local people of a community centre.

“Pubs are vital for social cohesion and cultural integration, and therefore the Government must act swiftly to repair the damage inflicted upon local communities by offering genuine support for enterprising and hard working licensees.”

IPPR Associate Director, Rick Muir, said: “Government must stop using a one size fits all approach to licensed premises which is killing off our community pubs. Instead responsible well-run community pubs should be encouraged and supported.

“Our research shows community pubs aren’t just places to drink but also places where people meet their neighbours; where local clubs hold meetings and events; and which support many important local services such as village post offices and general stores.”

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “We will be looking at these proposals in detail, but we can certainly agree with some of the key points – the immense social value of pubs, and the pressing need to address the huge increases in Beer Tax we have seen in recent years.

“Our own figures released today show beer sales in pubs down 3.7 per cent in 2011, which is closely linked to the still worrying level of pub closures. More supportive government policies would allow pubs to create jobs in local communities and help the economy back to growth.

“We also agree there is certainly a need for the Government to address why regulation and red tape have fallen so heavily on community pubs in recent years - yet more and more alcohol is drunk at home.”The All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group has today backed calls from a top think tank, for pubs that prove themselves to be the hub of the community to be given 50% business rate relief to help them survive. The report comes following the publication of figures by CAMRA, which showed that 16 public houses are closing each week.

The Institute of Public Policy Research has published a report today, which recommends the Government offer 50% business rate relief to pubs who prove they act as community hubs. In order to be considered a community hub, the report suggests pubs should offer benefits such as job opportunities or space for charity events.

A survey carried out by the IPPR found that a majority of people view pubs as the best place to visit in order to keep up to date on their community. The research also reveals that community pubs generate between £20,000 and £120,000 of ‘social value’ each year.

All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group chairman, Greg Mulholland MP, also endorsed the IPPR proposals, and said: "The Save the Pub Group fully support the ideas published in a report today by the Institute of Public Policy Research, which recommends that the Government offer 50% business rate relief to pubs that prove themselves to be the hub of the local community

“Whilst the Save the Pub Group have welcomed moves by the Government to support community pubs, such as the doubling of small business rate relief, it is high-time they recognised the significant contribution pubs have both socially and financially to the local community, by introducing further measures to protect well run community pubs.

“CAMRA figures, which show that 16 pubs close each week are deeply concerning and the Government must do more to address this problem. Offering business rate relief to well run community pubs would go some way to protecting the wealth of excellent pubs serving their local communities up and down the country.

"The Save the Pub Group will of course be continuing our work to ensure a better deal for pubs and reversing the worrying trend of pub closures in towns and cities across the country.”

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