Some think that the decision to increase tax on alcohol was an attempt to curb disorder in our city centres and encourage people into more healthy lifestyles. Others that is was a thinly disguised attempt to take more money from ordinary taxpayers? Either way it has missed the target and might be the cause of a landslide decline in the pub sector.
Industry sources say that pubs are closing at the alarming rate of four a day. Most of these pubs are in the country or in little villages – where drunken disorder has never really been a problem.
The real irony of the situation is that the city centre pubs are just as full at the weekends; the young drinkers are drinking just as musch (often tanking up at home before going to the pub); and anti-social disorder is still prevalent on high streets across the UK.
The main victims of the increase in tax on alcohol are pub landlords (particularly those out of town) and independent licensees. The public on the other hand still have choices that enable them to buy cheap booze elsewhere.
Supermarkets for example have made a stand and some have refused to pay more to their suppliers so that they can keep the retail prices steady. This means customers can drink at home for a fraction of the price they would have to pay in the pub (58p per pint compared with £2.85).
This tax hike has come on top of the ban on smoking, which has dented a large slice of pub's hard-core regular business (although experience in other places suggests this may return) and the credit crunch, which is affecting all non-essential spending.
The smoking ban has also been directly responsible for an increase in the level of complaints about noise and disorder. As smokers are forced outside onto the streets so the noise and disorder goes with them. This has been particularly problematic in city centres such as Brighton where the level of complaints has risen from 1 to 60 in a year.
Whereas on the other hand the country pub has not offended anyone and has been a great British tradition for centuries dating back to medieval times. Many ‘Olde Worlde’ pubs are a part of our national heritage and offer a place where people from all walks of life gather together without inhibition. Pub industry organisations are calling on the the Government to protect them not to dismantle them brick by brick?
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