General election candidates say pubs more important to communities than post offices and churches

19 April, 2010

Nine in ten parliamentary candidates in winnable seats believe pubs are an important part of the British way of life and more should be done to support them, according to a new poll released today by ComRes on behalf of the British Beer & Pub Association.

The poll of 101 parliamentary election candidates, who are judged likely to win their seats on current opinion poll projections, revealed that candidates are more likely to agree that their local pub is an important part of their local community than post offices, parish churches, village halls and community centres.

The poll comes on the back of news that over 320 parliamentary candidates have signed a pledge to 'Back the Pub', calling on government, industry, local authorities and others to work together to support British pubs as part of efforts to enhance community life and promote economic recovery.

The overwhelming majority of candidates (97 per cent) believe the pub is an important part of the British way of life and makes a valuable contribution to the British economy (95 per cent). 90 per cent of candidates also feel that an important part of Britain's social and community fabric is being lost with 50 pubs closing down every week, and 87 per cent believe more needs to be done to support and promote the British pub.

Candidates also want the next Government to pursue policies that promote the British pub. In particular, candidates scored an average 3.8 out of 5 for the importance of promoting pubs as places for responsible, social drinking and for their role in community life. Candidates also believe it is important for the next Government to lower the level of regulation and taxation faced by pubs, with an average score of 3.6 out of 5.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “It is clear from this poll that Parliamentary candidates from all parties and from all parts of the country back the Great British pub. They recognise the importance of the pub to the fabric of local communities and the economic contribution that pubs make to the economy as a whole.

"Candidates are rightly concerned about dozens of pubs closing each week in their own local communities and believe that more should be done to promote what is a great British institution.

"Britain's beer industry supports 920,000 jobs in the UK and 52,000 SMEs - community pubs.  Sixty per cent of the drink sales in community pubs are beer.

"Yet tax on beer continues to rise. Since the Budget of 2008, tax on beer has increased by 26 per cent at a cost of £761 million to the industry. During the same period over 4,000 community pubs have closed at a cost of more than 40,000 jobs.

"Despite the decision to reverse the planned 2.4 pence tax increase on a pint of cider, none of the parties are yet willing to agree that the same increase should not be imposed on beer, a low strength, British-produced drink.

"This week has seen all the main political parties release their election manifestos with support for the Great British pub. In the coming weeks, we will be looking for the parties to convert words into action so that they are truly backing the pub."

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