Call to action as UK pub closures rise

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is urging the UK Government to take swift action after new figures revealed pubs to be closing at an increased rate of 28 per week.

A bar at the 2012 Camra Great British Beer FestivalThe latest CGA-CAMRA Pub Tracker, covering the period of April-December 2013, shows that the number of pub closures in the UK has risen from 26 to 28 per week.

To help struggling pubs the group is calling on the government to press ahead with plans for a Pubs Watchdog scheme to protect licensees from high rents and beer prices charged by large pub companies.

The tied pub model, where landlords are managed by large pub companies, has come under increased criticism with recent research suggesting 57% of licensees tied to the big pub companies earn less than £10,000 a year, while leased and tenanted pubs accounting for 16 of the 28 pub closures each week.

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.”

The group is also calling on the Government to freeze the rate of beer duty in next month’s Budget and closing planning loopholes to ensure pubs cannot be lost without planning permission.

Benner added: “It is currently possible to convert a pub into a betting shop, pay-day loan store or supermarket without the need for planning permission, making it far too easy for valued community pubs to be lost. We are pressing the Government to act to close this planning loophole.”

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