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Scrap duty escalator to help save 4,000 pubs at risk, says WSTA

Published:  29 August, 2013

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association has seized on today's prediction by the Good Pub Guide that up to 4,000 pubs could close in the next 12 months to call on the government to do its bit and scrap the duty escalator on alcohol and help save more pubs from closure.

The publication of this year's guide today has caused controversy across the media for singling out what it refers to as 'Bad Pubs' that are destined to fail due to being "stuck in the 1980s, happy with indifferent food, drink, service and surroundings." It even goes on to state: "It's high time they closed their doors"

But the Guide also predicts well over 1,000 new pubs will open in the next year that it believed will bring "visionary and energetic new licensees bringing fresh life to former pubs that had been shuttered for months or years".

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said of the Guide's findings: "The report should be a wake-up call for the government that more needs to be done to support the off-trade sector. We know that pubs offering a wider selection of food and drink are performing well, however, the government needs to provide greater incentives for these pubs and for others to follow suit. The best way to do this would be to drop the alcohol duty escalator, which has increased tax on wine by 50% and spirits by 44% since its introduction in 2008."

He added: "Given that 41% of the value of drinks now sold in pubs and restaurants comes from wines and spirits, the government should support pubs and other hospitality businesses - as well as providing some much needed relief to consumers - by ending the alcohol duty escalator a year early."

The Guide goes on to say that poor service is the number one reason for pubs closing. It states: "Landlords and landladies who motivate and inspire young staff are the driving force behind improving pub service standards in the UK." It also applauds the "surge in real professionalism in the industry with increasing vocational training and qualifications, and recently launched schemes for work placements and apprenticeships"

The overall Pub of the Year in the new guide goes to the Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland.

The Guide also found large discrepencies in prices being charged for drinks with a 65p pint difference in the price of beer between Staffordshire, (the cheapest area) and London (the most expensive area). The average cost of a pint of real ale is £3.20. It also found that home grown beers, often by the pub themselves, typically cost 40p a pint less than the local average.

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