Monday, 6 February 2017

CAMRA calls for a penny off your pint

With the Chancellor's Budget just over a month away, CAMRA is ramping up its campaign to call on the government to keep the price of your pint down.

CAMRA is leading the campaign by calling on the Treasury to reduce beer duty by 1p ahead of the Budget on the 8th March. With inflation expected to rise in the next year, the cut will help to cap the price of beer, keeping more money in consumers' pockets and helping the pubs and brewing sector to grow.

Beer duty campaigners have had some success in recent years with three consecutive penny cuts to duty and a subsequent freeze, however the UK is still paying among the highest rate of beer duty in Europe at 52.2p on the pint. This compares to other big brewing nations which pay a tenth less than UK beer drinkers such as Germany and Spain, who enjoy their beer at under 5p of duty on a pint.

The three cuts in duty have been good news for drinkers, publicans and the Treasury. Not only has the price of beer been contained, but the beer, brewing and pubs sector now support nearly 900,000 UK jobs, and contributes £23.6bn to the economy every year. CAMRA believes a further cut would only help encourage investment, protect jobs and improve confidence in the sector.

CAMRA is also particularly concerned that more people are now buying their beer from the supermarket rather than the pub, choosing to drink at home rather than socialise with their friends in their local.

In an effort to help pubs, CAMRA is calling for a reduction of up to £5000 in business rates for pubs in England which would allow pub owners to reinvest the additional funds back into the business.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA's National Chairman says: "It is clear that previous cuts to beer duty have benefitted beer drinkers and supported significant growth in the brewing industry. However, we as a nation are still paying a notable amount - especially in comparison to our European neighbours.

At the same time, pubs are confronted with higher taxation and cost, despite the vital role that they play in bringing our communities together and ensure we are drinking responsibly.

We are simply calling for fairer measures for beer drinkers and publicans in our asks to government. I hope the Chancellor will take all of this into consideration when deciding this Budget."

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Cheers to that! CAMRA membership soars

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has just signed up its 185,000th member, reinforcing its place among some of the top membership organisations in the UK - and boasting numbers above all but one of the major political parties.

The milestone member was one of hundreds signed up at the recent Manchester Beer and Cider Festival, one of CAMRA's many successful annual events, which saw nearly 15,000 visitors enjoying real ale, real cider and perry last week.

The organisation's current membership puts it ahead of the Conservative Party, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and UKIP. Only the Labour Party has more members.

After 45 years of being one of the largest single-issue consumer groups in the world, CAMRA is still seeing nearly 10,000 new members join each year. Issues facing the beer and pubs industry still top the agenda for many, with CAMRA's key campaigns including the protection of pubs from closure, keeping beer affordable and promoting the wellbeing benefits of visiting your local continuing to strike a chord.

CAMRA is also well known for the 200 beer festivals that it runs across the UK, including its flagship Great British Beer Festival, which will be returning to London Olympia this summer from the 8th-12th August and featuring over 900 real ales, other craft beers, ciders and wines.

CAMRA made the headlines last year when it embarked on a member-wide consultation about its future direction and purpose to ensure that it remains relevant 45 years on from its founding. The proposals put forward by the committee charged with running the Revitalisation consultation suggested that CAMRA could make numerous changes to its campaigning and activities to better represent the modern beer and pub world. A final decision on the proposals will take place at CAMRA's Members' Weekend in 2018.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA's National Chairman says: "It is fantastic to see our membership continue to grow year on year at such a successful rate. CAMRA remains an attractive organisation in this day and age because of our ability to adapt to the new issues that face the beer and pubs industry. We have seen the world of beer change significantly since 1971, with the rise in breweries and rapid closure rates in pubs, which is why we continually evaluate our purpose and strategy to reflect these changes. As a result, we are looking forward to another 45 year of pub and beer campaigning!"

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Shadow Communities Spokesperson backs House of Lords vote for greater pub protection

Lord Roy Kennedy of Southwark, Shadow Spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), has confirmed his support for strengthening planning laws to protect vulnerable pubs across England.

In yesterday's House of Lords debate on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, Lord Kennedy promised to propose an amendment to remove permitted development rights for pubs so that they are protected under the planning system.

In his speech at the despatch box, Lord Kennedy said "I also give notice to the Minister that we shall be proposing an amendment in Committee to remove the permitted development rights for pubs in England and to place pubs in a class of their own.

Permitted development rights allow the change of use of pubs to retail and temporary office use without planning permission, with communities denied a say over the loss of valuable community assets. We are presently seeing 21 pubs close a week.

That is most regrettable, and we need to act save our pubs."

While the lack of protection in current legislation has galvanised community groups across the country to protect their locals by registering 2000 pubs as Assets of Community Value (ACV), the process has proven to be lengthy and bureaucratic for both community groups gathering supporting evidence for their nominations, and local authorities who preside over ACV applications.

Lord Kennedy's proposed amendment would therefore take pressure off local community groups to individually list pubs and councils which are burdened with red tape.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA's National Chairman says: "We have seen communities across England go through the process of nominating their pub as an Asset of Community Value. This shows a huge appetite for protecting pubs, which are more than just businesses – they are invaluable landmarks in our communities.

"Unfortunately, the ACV process can be time-consuming, fraught with difficulties and at the end of the day is only a temporary measure – listings must be renewed every five years to maintain protection. It simply doesn't make sense that pub-goers have to jump through these extra hoops when it is clear that so many communities overwhelmingly want a say on the future of their much-loved pub. We thank Lord Kennedy for his sensible proposals and hope that they are carried forward in the Bill."


Robinsons Brewery and Iron Maiden have unveiled a strong new look for their multi award-winning TROOPER beer ahead of an exciting year for the brand.

The beer, created by Robinsons and Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, has been a runaway success, selling over 15 million pints worldwide since its launch in May 2013 and spawning two limited edition beers – TROOPER 666 and last year’s TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black porter.

John Robinson, Brands Manager for Robinsons Brewery said: “TROOPER is a true British success story. Since launching, we’ve reached millions of beer lovers and music fans in over 50 countries and, in the process, helped to fly the flag for British ale in global markets. Most recently we have exported the beer to new territories as far afield as Bosnia, Guatemala, and Ukraine. At home, we have established great relationships with all the major retailers, such as Tesco, where TROOPER has grown from an original listing of just 33 stores in the local area to 619 stores across the UK. After nearly 4 years, the time feels right to give TROOPER a sharp new look, particularly as we have further exciting announcements ahead in the pipeline. Consumer research with both landlords and customers across our pub estate showed overwhelming support for the new branding, so we can’t wait to take it out into the world.”

The rebrand will be rolling out from March, and will be accompanied by a full range of updated point of sale items, including TROOPER’s first permanent pump clip.

New TROOPER BrandingBruce Dickinson adds: “We know that TROOPER is a great beer and I think the new branding is fantastic. It has such a strong look and I think it’ll go down brilliantly, particularly in the on-trade. We are very lucky to get so many pub listings, and this great new pump clip should help to create more permanency on the bars. I’m very excited about the year ahead.”

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Your health! The benefits of social drinking

New research, which shows that moderate alcohol consumption with friends at a local pub may be linked to improved wellbeing, has been published in the journal Adaptive Human Behaviour and Physiology.

While most studies warn of the health risks of alcohol consumption, researchers at the University of Oxford have looked at whether having a drink may play a role in improving social cohesion, given its long association with human social activities.

Combining data from three separate studies - a questionnaire-based study of pub clientele, observing conversational behaviour in pubs, and a national survey by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – the researchers looked at whether the frequency of alcohol consumption or the type of venue affected peoples' social experiences and wellbeing.

They found that people who have a ‘local' that they visit regularly tend to feel more socially engaged and contented, and are more likely to trust other members of their community. They also observed that those without a local pub had significantly smaller social networks and felt less engaged with, and trusting of, their local communities.

The study also showed that those who drank at local pubs tended to socialise in smaller groups, which encouraged whole-group conversation, while those drinking in city-centre bars tended to be in much larger groups, and participated much less in group conversation.

Professor Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford's Experimental Psychology department, said: "This study showed that frequenting a local pub can directly affect peoples' social network size and how engaged they are with their local community, which in turn can affect how satisfied they feel in life.

"Our social networks provide us with the single most important buffer against mental and physical illness. While pubs traditionally have a role as a place for community socialising, alcohol's role appears to be in triggering the endorphin system, which promotes social bonding. Like other complex bonding systems such as dancing, singing and storytelling, it has often been adopted by large social communities as a ritual associated with bonding."

Colin Valentine, CAMRA's National Chairman, said: "Personal wellbeing and happiness have a massive impact not only on individual lives, but on communities as a whole. It will be of no surprise to CAMRA members that pubs play such a pivotal role in a person's wellbeing, but it is fantastic news to hear that this wisdom has now been confirmed by research.

"Pubs play a unique role in offering a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends in a responsible, supervised community setting. For this reason, we all need to do what we can to ensure that everyone has a ‘local' near to where they live or work - the first step to which is strengthening planning protection for pubs to stem the 21 pubs closing across this country each week."

The full paper, ‘Functional benefits of (modest) alcohol consumption', can be read in the journal Adaptive Human Behaviour and Physiology: