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.
- An end to high beer miles - pub chains should allow pub landlords to buy a beer from a local brewery;
- An extension of progressive beer duty to the EU maximum permitted level,
to boost the market for many independent family brewers;
- A new system of discretionary rate relief for urban community pubs, to help stop pub closures in towns and inner cities.
A survey of public attitudes to beer and localism carried out on CAMRA's behalf in July found that:
- 54% of adults agree that at least one beer sold in every pub should be locally brewed;
- 7 out of 10 adults agree that pubs selling locally-brewed beer and locally-produced food help sustain the local economy;
- one third of adults (31%) would buy locally brewed beer in a pub rather than beers from outside the area;
- 8 out of 10 adults believe that pubs are an essential community amenity;
- 67% think that pubs should use local produce to prepare food;
- nearly one third (28%) agree that local pubs should offer other services to the community such as
post offices, shops or food take-aways.
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:
- fewer middlemen to take a cut in the profits;
- they could ensure that the beer would be in the best condition;
- direct feedback from customers to the brewer;
- quicker return of casks - better use of assets;
- cut beer miles for the delivery of beer to the pub;
- the fact that each brewery would have effectively their own brewery tap (even if they did not
own the pub itself) would give them a higher profile in the community;
- as well as being a great help to the local breweries it would also make the local pubs more
interesting for consumers.
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.
- a valued community local is under threat of closure;
- a pub sources a certain percentage of its beers and food from local suppliers;
- where a pub provides or hosts other facilities (such as a post office) which benefit the
community and are no longer available locally.
ALE Winter 2003/04 No. 312
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Cambridge & District CAMRA