London's pubs under threat from crippling beer taxes
London’s pubs have been hit by “crippling” beer taxes which have put the future of the industry in danger, the government has been warned.
Some 43 pubs were lost in the capital between September last year and March, according to real ale campaign group Camra’s research.
Pubs are shutting at a rate of 12 per week across England, Scotland and Wales, with eight pubs closing in town centres and four closing in rural parts during the September to March period, the research found.
Camra and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) are among the groups to back a national e-petition to call for a stop to the above-inflation beer tax increases which are punishing pubs. Some 34,000 consumers have signed the e-petition so far.
BBPA communications manager Neil Williams said: “Huge beer tax hikes are a real body blow to London’s pubs and pubgoers.
“Overall, we’ve seen rises of 42 per cent since March 2008, when this controversial policy came in. Undoubtedly, it has been shutting jobs, and costing jobs in a key industry in the capital which is worth around £3bn to London’s economy, and employs over 70,000 local people. We really need a rethink.”
Williams said the e-petition had gathered a lot of support from both pub owners and passionate pubgoers.
He said: “There is huge support for the petition across the industry, and certainly including brewers and pubs in London. We would urge anyone who cares about the capital’s fantastic pubs to sign up now.”
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Despite the concerns raised by the BBPA, the government insists it has put measures in place to support the British pub.
Bob Neill, the community pubs minister, said: “This government is already taking decisive action to support community pubs. We have doubled small business rate relief for two-and-a-half years, which gives up to 100 per cent rate relief for small firms including pubs.
“Country pubs may also be eligible for rural business rate relief. On top of this, we have abolished the last government’s cider tax, are cutting red tape on live music in pubs and are stopping unfair sales of alcohol below cost-price by supermarkets.
“We are also giving local councils new powers to introduce local business rate discounts, which could support pubs which offer community facilities.”
Camra chief executive Mike Benner said unsustainable beer tax increases were “ripping the heart out of community centres” but consumers were showing their discontent by signing the e-petition.