BEER-lovers are calling for a month-long celebration of pubs in reaction to George Osborne’s decision to scrap the beer tax escalator and to reduce duty by 1p.
The Campaign for Real Ale, which collected more than 100,000 signatures in its petition against the tax, is now urging supporters to vote with their feet and to go back to the pub.
Camra argues that well-run pubs can be a positive force in the community, but the number of people drinking in pubs is falling.
According to Camra 42 per cent of people are going to pubs less than they did a year ago. The idea behind Community Pubs Month is to remind people of the joys of pub culture.
Mike Benner, chief executive of Camra said: “The Chancellor has become the toast of Britain’s cash-strapped beer drinkers and we should now be paying around 10p less per pub pint than they would have been had the escalator remained in place in last week’s Budget. This is a massive victory for Britain’s 15 million beer drinkers and we are urging people to celebrate in their local throughout Community Pubs Month.
“People are using pubs less in these difficult times and this tax cut is an important step in the right direction to support this great British industry and get people back into an essential community amenity, the pub.”
According to research carried out by Camra, more than four out of ten pub-goers said they would go more often if pubs served quality food and drink.
More than one in four drinkers (27 per cent) said they would be more frequent visitors to a pub which offered live music while just under a quarter (24 per cent) said they believed pubs should be more family-oriented.
Almost one in five men (18 per cent) said they would be keen to visit a pub where they could play traditional games like darts, pool and skittles, while 4 per cent said they like to go to a pub which offered board games.
But it seems pub-goers prefer to chat with other drinkers rather than log on to social networks. Only 10 per cent said they would be more attracted to a pub which offered free wi-fi and laptops. And only 5 per cent said they would be tempted by a social networking pub where you could socialise remotely with a friend in a different town.
Colin Valentine, the Edinburgh-based national chairman of Camra, said: “There are still roughly two pubs a week closing in Scotland and 16 pubs a week closing across the UK.
“Beer has been hammered so much and I think the Chancellor has done something very positive.”
He said pubs which diversified and hosted community events could be a real social asset.
“I think what this research shows is that pubs need to be doing more than just offering lager and Sky sports. You have to do something a wee bit different.
“Whatever problems this country has with alcohol are not down to pubs. A well-run community pub can be a very positive thing.”
Green MSP Patrick Harvie, who is a long-standing Camra member, has called for a designated minister in the Scottish Parliament to have special responsibility for pubs.
However the Scottish Government argues the industry is adequately represented by existing ministers.