The rate of closures has risen by six a week since the spring, the campaign group said, as it called for “urgent” action by the Government to halt the decline.
The real ale group said that 450 pubs have closed between March and September, equivalent to 18 each week. This compares to a closure rate of 12 a week over the previous six month period.
CAMRA described the escalation in pub closures as “very concerning”.
The campaign group said that the closures have been caused by high beer prices due to the Government’s controversial ‘beer duty escalator’. The recession and low alcohol prices in supermarkets were also blamed.
The duty escalator, which was introduced in 2008 by the previous Labour administration, means that the amount of tax paid on beer is automatically increased by 2 per cent above inflation every year.
As a result, tax on beer has gone up by 40 per cent since 2008 and now accounts for over a third of the cost of a pint, CAMRA said.
The cost of a pint of lager has risen from £2.57 in 2007 to £3.09 today, while a pint of real ale has risen from £2.34 to £2.91.
The group said that 5,800 pubs have closed since the escalator was introduced in 2008. Just under 58,000 pubs remain open in Britain.
CAMRA released the figures ahead of a Parliamentary debate on beer duty today.
Pubs and breweries forced a debate among MPs on whether the beer duty escalator should be scrapped by getting 100,000 signatures on a petition.
Most of the recent pub closures have been in densely populated areas, according to figures from the CGA-CAMRA Pub Tracker.
The Midlands tops the list with 155 closures in the last six months, followed by London and the South-East, where there were 101 closures.
Only the South-West of England and North and Mid-Wales saw rises in the number of pubs opening in the last six months.
Although there has been a marked rise in the number of pub closures since the spring, a CAMRA spokesman said that the number of premises being shut remains below its 2009 peak.
At the height of the recession in 2009, 52 pubs were closing every week. The closure rate has fallen steadily since then but the spokesman said that the recent rise marks “the first time closures have spiked up” since 2009.
“This is obviously very concerning,” he said.
The beer duty escalator is currently in place until 2015. CAMRA said that beer sales are “plummeting” as a result of the rising prices. According to the British Beer and Pub Association UK beer sales fell by 5.6 per cent between July and September alone.
Mike Benner, CAMRA’s chief executive, said: “As the pub closure figures show, the future of Britain’s valued community pubs remains in jeopardy. With pubs finding it ever harder to maintain consistent footfall at a time when prices are ever increasing, it is only hoped that Parliament will today take the first steps by voting to review punitive taxation policies on Britain’s national drink.’
Keith Bott, chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), said that the maths behind the beer duty escalator do not add up.
“The standard response [from Coalition MPs] seems to be that revenues from alcohol excise duty make an important contribution to reducing the deficit we inherited from the last Government.
“However, according to Treasury estimates, the Exchequer will receive just £35m in additional duty from the escalator in 2013/14. This amount would be largely offset by the boost in sales and employment-related taxes that a beer duty freeze would create,” he said.
News story found at www.telegraph.co.ukIf you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!