Pubs call time at record rate

PUBS in Britain are closing at a record rate of 52 a week, costing 24,000 jobs over the past year, the British Beer &amp; Pub Association (BBPA) said yesterday. <br /><br />The new figures show that in the last 12 months&nbsp; alone 2,377 pubs have called time on their business. There are now 53,466 pubs in Britain, down from 58,600 in the year before the Licensing Act came into force in 2005.<br /><br />Britain&rsquo;s pubs have faced torrid trading conditions over the last two years as a smoking ban, recession, above-inflation tax rises, miserable weather last summer and cheap alcohol offers in supermarkets keep drinkers at home. <br /><br />The BBPA yesterday said that due to several hikes in beer duty the industry&rsquo;s total tax bill now stands at &pound;6.1bn a year. Separate figures from lobby group Fair Pint show that between 20-30p has been added to the cost of a pint in the past year alone; an increase that many local pub landlords have had to pass on to their customers to meet margins, but has resulted in them losing business.<br /><br />BBPA chief executive David Long said: &ldquo;While every other sector seems to receive a sympathetic ear and taxpayer funded handout from government to tide them through the downturn, all we get is a deaf ear and a higher tax bill.&rdquo;<br /><br />The figures compiled by pub research group CGA Strategy show that the government has lost more than &pound;254m in lost taxes due to pub closures.<br /><br />The pub groups have faced extra scrutiny this year with an investigation by the Commons Business and Enterprise Committee into their tied-trade business models. The committee said in May it had found evidence that the behaviour of such companies was contributing to the sharp rise in pub closures.