The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has attacked the Government for failing to include a commitment to a ban on the sale of alcohol below cost price as part of the upcoming Police Reform and Social Responsibility.
Both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties that make up the Coalition Government made the ban a pledge in their election manifestoes, but ministers announced today that it would not be included in the bill.
Camra said a delay on the introduction of a ban, combined with other proposals released today as part of the bill - such as a levy on late-night licensing - meant that the on-trade would be hit hardest.
Mike Benner, Camra chief executive, said: "This delay will only add to pubs' woes at a time when so many are struggling to survive. Pubs are already set to be hit hard by a VAT increase to 20% in the New Year which they simply cannot afford to absorb so will have to pass on to customers. This means that the differential in prices between pubs and supermarkets will continue to widen.
"This Christmas, you only need to look at the incredibly low alcohol prices in supermarkets to see just how desperately we need to curb their irresponsible behaviour. Beer in supermarkets can be as much as six times cheaper than beer sold in pubs, which is driving people away from the responsible, regulated environment of well-run pubs and leading many to drink at home."
By Neil Gerrard
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