Let me take you back 50 years to the swinging 60s. Even if you’re too young to remember the decade, it will be familiar through documentaries, films and, of course, the wonderful music. It was a time when the good old British pub was the centre of the community across the country. At that time the average wage was £800 a year and a pint of beer cost 10p.

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Many people say they can’t afford to go to the pub any more, with the price of a pint higher than it has ever been. But this is simply not the case. Comparatively speaking, with the average annual wage now standing at about £24,000 and a pint costing about £3.40 the cost is very similar to what it was 50 years ago. In fact, if the 20pc VAT is not included, the price of a pint today would actually be cheaper than it was in the early 60s. So why is it dozens of pubs are closing every month?

It was, of course, a very different world back then. No computers, no games consoles, few homes had phones, and while many people had televisions there was little choice compared to today. Families didn’t travel very far, they didn’t take foreign holidays and they certainly didn’t spend their money on expensive meals in restaurants or on takeaways. It would be easy to believe that with the internet, film and television on demand 24 hours a day, and everyone permanently available on mobile phones, that there is no longer a need for people to go out to socialise. That isn’t quite the case though, many cinemas, theatres, restaurants and clubs are thriving. The pub seems to be an exception.

Pubs have been struggling for the past dozen years or so. This coincides with supermarkets selling alcohol at knock-down prices, using beer and spirits as loss leaders. And the 1990s was the era of the booze cruise.

Thousands of people would endure the trek to France for the day to fill the car with wine and beer at prices way below British supermarkets.

I mention this just to demonstrate British supermarkets selling alcohol cheaply is a recent phenomenon, one which now sees about 80 per cent of beer sold through supermarkets. Sadly, the effect this has had on the pub is dramatic. Young people who used to meet and spend the evening in their local before going to a nightclub simply buy cheap booze from a supermarket and get drunk at home before they even set foot outside.

This not only has a detrimental effect on our pubs but also on our town and city centres, while the loss of revenue to the government in taxes from the licensed trade and wider economic impacts of a declining pub trade, which employs tens of thousands of people, is beyond measure – particularly as more and more neighbourhoods lose vital community hubs.

I firmly believe politicians need to act, before it’s too late, and take measures to support our local pubs which are a valuable British institution we can’t afford to lose.

Ivan Brown is a Norfolk publican with 35 years in the licensed trade.

9 comments

  • Plenty of pubs survive though. They are the ones that wake up to the fact that in the last 50 years they have had to face competition for customers' hard earned money. The other publicans just sit and whine, then shut down so they can pocket the easy cash converting the building into houses.

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    NigelS

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Sadly V is right. Also £24.000 per year is for the few. a lot of people are on zero hours contracts. Working part time. having to pay exorbitant prices for necessities. Gas.. Water.. electricity. They 'fat cats are Ok. I love my local and used to go 3 or 4 times a week but the other Friday two rounds of drinks.. £24.65 . PS I don't earn the average.

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    musicman

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • When will pubs get real? Supermarkets supply what people want - pubs don't! Why pay £3+ when you don't have to? Especially when pubs these days are cafes with creches!

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    biglingers

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • The politicians wont support the pubs as they "are alright jack" with their cheap, taxpayer subsidised bars at Wasteminster. Why should they care about us "plebs" ?

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    "V"

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Back in the swinging sixties smokers were allowed in pubs too. How on earth can a publican, write an article about the demise of the pub, without mentioning the smoking ban. Anti smoking zealots have,nt stopped folks smoking, they,ve just stopped them coming to the pub. Use your energy on lobbying for a change in the most stupid, spiteful, disasterous piece of legislation ever passed.

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    cynical

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • It wasn't until 2007 that pubs started to close in their thousands. Before the smoking ban the majority of regular drinkers were smokers and no business can succeed when the majority of its customers are not welcome.

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    chas winfield

    Wednesday, December 4, 2013

  • Ah yes, pubs in the 60s.... Watneys Red Barrel (Cherry B for the ladies), outside lavs, Smiths crisps (plain) and don't even think of asking for a cup of coffee. I think a large part of the desertion of pubs is down to the workers being able to afford to heat their front rooms every day, rather than just Sundays and Christmas.

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    galrita

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Galrita. Whatever happened to Norwich Bitter from the 70's ? YUK !

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    "V"

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Sadly V is right. Also £24.000 per year is for the few. a lot of people are on zero hours contracts. Working part time. having to pay exorbitant prices for necessities. Gas.. Water.. electricity. They 'fat cats are Ok. I love my local and used to go 3 or 4 times a week but the other Friday two rounds of drinks.. £24.65 . PS I don't earn the average.

    Report this comment

    musicman

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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