ALE Winter 2003/04 No. 312 : Next section

[Campaign for Real Ale logo © CAMRA]

Local Beers for Local Pubs

This new campaign, part of CAMRA's support for the Local Communities Sustainability Bill, calls for: Consolidation in pub ownership, increasing separation of brewing and pub ownership and the prevalence of large town centre theme bars is threatening the future of traditional community pubs, local breweries and consumer choice. There is currently no effective legislation to promote fair competition and consumer choice in the industry.

A survey of public attitudes to beer and localism carried out on CAMRA's behalf in July found that:

Step 1 - Local Beers for local pubs

The majority of non-brewing pub chains restrict the beers which their pub licensees can buy to those on a list, supplied centrally. There are practical reasons for this such as ease of control and accounting but CAMRA claims that the system restricts access to market for small local brewers and leads to the same old national brands ending up on most bars.

It's ridiculous that the industry has become so cumbersome and inflexible that a pub can't buy a beer from a local micro-brewery without it first being shipped to a distribution depot a hundred miles away. Beer miles and their impact on the environment and local economies are a growing problem in the beer market but there is a simple solution.

CAMRA wants all pub chains to let their licensees buy an additional real ale of their choice from local breweries if they so wish. Such a move would benefit all parties.

When the guest beer law came into effect in 1990, it enabled tenants of national brewers to buy an extra real ale from a supplier of their choice. The truth is that the huge majority of licensees either didn't think they needed to stock another beer, or if they did, they bought one from the brewer which owned the pub. This experience is significant.

Only licensees who are really interested in real ale and think that stocking an additional beer from a local brewery (thus giving them a unique selling point in their locality) will do so. These pubs in turn will benefit from more customers and a higher turnover whilst the pub chain has a more vibrant and successful pub on its books.

If local breweries today had the opportunity to sell into the pubs of pub companies each brewery could expect to add perhaps a couple of dozen new accounts, possibly more. Not a huge amount in global terms but because they would be delivering direct to the pub there would be advantages to the brewery including:

Step 2 - Building on success - progressive beer duty for family brewers

The introduction in 2002 of progressive beer duty (PBD) for brewers producing less than 30,000hl has been highly successful, with hundreds of local micro-brewers benefiting from the ability to invest in their businesses. It costs the Treasury very little since these are small businesses.

McMullen of Hertford is scaling down its beer production to become eligible and Brakspear of Henley-on-Thames claims it wouldn't have had to close its brewery if PBD had been available.

Step 3 - Keeping community town pubs alive

50% mandatory rate relief for sole village pubs with ratable values of less than 9,000 was introduced in 2000. It has knocked hundreds of pounds off the rate bills of thousands of country pubs helping make their businesses more viable against ever-increasing rents and declining pub use. 100% relief is discretionary for sole village pubs. CAMRA research shows that as many as twenty pubs are closing every month.

CAMRA is calling for this legislation to be developed to enable urban community pubs to benefit from up to 100% discretionary rate relief where:

Well-run community pubs in towns and inner cities are the social and economic heart of an area. Like village pubs, their closure can add to the spiral of decline faced by many local economies and undermine a sense of community feeling.

ALE Winter 2003/04 No. 312 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA