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Budget was no happy hour for publican; CASE STUDY: LEISURE.

It was a poor Budget for a pub trade already hit by 39 closures a week according to a Birmingham landlord.

Nigel Barker who has run the awardwinning Wellington in Bennetts Hill for the last four-and-half-years, said the Chancellor had failed to ease the plight of the publicans.

According to Treasury figures, the rise, which comes into force at midnight, will put 1p on a pint of beer or cider, 4p on a 75cl bottle of wine, and 13p on a 70cl bottle of spirits.

"I thought he might have held up the tax increases. Two per cent is not all that much on its own, but with 18 per cent last year that's 20 per cent in 12 months.

Like driving and smoking, alcohol is a soft target for taxes. But you can't keep putting prices up for ever.

"This does nothing to help the 39 pubs a week which are closing." Nigel, who has been in the pub trade 30 years and is regional spokesman for CAMRA, added that there had been concerted lobbying from the Campaign and other pub trade associations but

Alastair Darling 'took no notice whatsoever'.

He recognises that the Wellington, with its focus on quality real ales, is perhaps less vulnerable to price than many community pubs - which find their lager drinkers tempted to sup at home by cheap supermarket prices." This and the ban on smoking has decimated the trade.

"More people drinking and smoking at home is killing the community pub.

''This price rise does nothing to keep communities together..

''People need their community pubs at times like this. As a publican and a businessman I am very disappointed, again," he added.

But the British Beer and Pub Association said the "final impact" of a pint in the pub was more likely to be 5p.

The industry believes the new tax escalator, which will see three more two per cent rises in the next three years, puts up to 75,000 jobs at risk.

The BBPA's Mark Hastings said: "Today's Budget signs the death warrant for thousands of Britain's pubs and for tens of thousands of British jobs.

"In imposing these additional beer taxes, the Government has willfully ignored the views of the public, landlords, consumer groups, industry representatives and MPs from all parties who have been calling for action to save the British pub." The chairman of London brewer Fuller, Smith & Turner, Michael Turner, said: "The Chancellor already makes 50 times as much out of each pint sold as the brewer does and this further increase cannot be justified."

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Pubs are a soft target for increased taxes, says Nigel Barker
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 23, 2009
Words:441
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