Friday, 27 January 2012

Call to save pubs as the hub of the community

Community pubs are one of Britain’s oldest and most popular social institutions. However, they are currently under pressure, with 16 pubs closing every week.

A new report out this week from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) recommends a 50 per cent business rate relief for those who can prove they act as community hubs.

The report outlines the increasing acceleration of the closure of pubs in the last few years citing numerous reasons including that fact that alcohol consumption tends to rise and fall with economic prosperity and the downturn in the economy has affected pub incomes.

Pubs though are also suffering from the fact that Tastes and lifestyles have changed, with more people drinking wine and fewer people drinking beer, the mainstay of most pub income.The pub has faced competition from alternative leisure pursuits,such as the restaurant and the cinema.

There has also been a significant rise in the number of people drinking at home, rather than in pubs and bars.

However pubs are more than just private businesses selling alcohol says the report. Many pubs also play an important role at the heart of their local communities.

They inject an average of £80,000 into their local economy each year and are perceived by people to be the most important social institution for promoting interactions between people from different walks of life.

Besides the help from the business rate the report recommends that they be eligible for third sector finance and suggests that some pubs could apply to become community interest companies and apply for third sector grants and loans to develop the community-oriented side of their business.

There is no one magic bullet that will simultaneously solve the problems facing Britain’s community pubs says the authors. However, taken as a whole, the package of measures recommended here should ensure that local pubs can continue to play a role in supporting community life for many generations to come.

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