Long Live the Local

'Long Live the Local' campaign launches to garner support for pubs under pressure

By Claire Churchard

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Long Live the Local Beer duty Business rates

A campaign to raise awareness of the threats that pubs face from increasing financial pressures and tax rises has launched today, urging people to take action or risk losing their local.

Organised by the British Beer Alliance (BBA) and supported by The Morning Advertiser​ (MA​), the Long Live the Local​ campaign encourages people to support pubs whether they are geographically close or their favourite place for a pint further afield to help stem the sector’s slow decline. 

Over the next three years the campaign will work to raise awareness of the important role of pubs in Britain’s communities, culture and national identity.

Unprecedented pressures  

From a business rates system that penalises growing operations, to beer duty that puts up the price of a pint, combined with the tough trading conditions the UK is experiencing, it is no surprise that three local pubs in Great Britain close every day (according to analysis of Valuations Office Agency data by the British Beer & Pub Association and CGA). 

How to get involved

Pubs that want to get behind the campaign can request one of more than 15,000 free in-pub kits that include beer mats, tent cards and posters with campaign info and brightly coloured branding. The material explains how great pubs are and how they need to be supported by customers and people within the sector itself.

Digital images and other content will be available for pubs to share on their social media channels and websites.  

A programme of MP lobbying events from mid-July through to the Budget in November will be available on the campaign website.

Visit www.longlivethelocal.pub​ to find out more.

To stop this decline, the Long Live the Local​ campaign is calling on people to write to their MPs to call for a cut in the “devastatingly high” beer duty, which the BBA said the Government plans to raise further by linking it to the Retail Price Index for at least the next three years. Pub lovers are also being encouraged to sign a petition calling for a cut in beer duty.

Campaign organisers said beer duty in Britain is “already three times the EU average and 12 times higher than in Germany. If duty continues to rise… beer sales will fall, pubs will continue to close, communities will lose vital assets and jobs will be lost”. 

Beer sales decline

David Cunningham, programme director for Long Live the Local​, said: “​Between 2008 and 2012, the industry experienced the devastating impact of a five-year escalator policy on beer duty. In five years, we saw beer sales decline by 24% in pubs, 5,000 pubs closed and 58,000 pub and brewing-related jobs were lost."

He said the campaign will show the positive role local pubs play in people's lives from hosting life's big and small events to contributing a huge amount to the UK economy in tax revenues and job creation.  

Duty cuts benefits passed on?

To preseve this vibrant sector, Cunningham said: “We need a cut in beer duty and in the current political and economic climate we recognise that this is not going to be easy to achieve. It will require a step change in approach from the whole industry, but we cannot allow beer tax to increase again.” 

However, pub operators have previously raised concerns that they haven’t seen benefits passed on when beer duty has been cut in the past.

Responding to this, Cunningham told the MA​: “The campaign recognises that beer duty is one of many tax pressures, along with business rates and VAT, that pubs face.“

When beer duty goes up that gets passed on through the whole value chain, he said. “It ultimately puts pressure on publican as to whether they pass it on to their pubgoers.”

If they do, it risks reducing the affordability of the pub with a subsequent decrease in footfall and lost revenue. If they absorb the increase themselves, profit margin will be further eroded.

Cunningham acknowledged that when beer duty is either kept the same or decreases, because there’s a long value chain  there’s no guarantee that that decrease gets passed on to the end drinker. It can be taken by the pub company, he said.

“But if [the cut in beer duty] is helping the publican or the  pub company and their overall margin or profit, then ultimately the drinker still receives that back in benefit, if not through price, then through the pub staying open, through investment in events and investment in the fabric of the pub.

“Ultimately it makes that local pub that people love so much a continued, sustainable business, providing the services that it offers. It’s not just about price it’s about the sustainability of that whole business.” 

900,000​ - the number of people in the UK are reliant on the pub, brewing and other related industries for work

£23bn​ - the amount that pubs add to the country's economy

£13bn​ - the tax contributions pubs make to the exchequer 

24%​ - the amount by which beer sales declined between 2008/12, partly due to the beer duty escalator policy

5,000​  - the number of pubs that closed between 2008/12

58,000​ - the number of pub and brewing-related jobs lost between 2008/12

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