THE Government has been urged to step in to help preserve the nation’s village pubs amid accusations the brewing trade’s focus on profits is endangering the heartbeat of rural communities.
A Yorkshire academic has claimed that a massive shift to tenanted pubs owned by major companies in the past two decades means the businesses are centred on profits at the expense of community cohesion.
Dr Ignazio Cabras from the York Management School at York University is about to embark on the first study of its kind to establish if there is a direct link between village pubs and social benefits in rural England.
He stressed the move away from landlords independently owning pubs had led to a far greater emphasis being placed on financial returns.
Dr Cabras urged ministers to consider a series of measures such as tax relief for anyone planning to open a village pub or slashing taxation on beer, which has gone up by 42 per cent since March 2008.
He added: “The emphasis on profits can be justified economically, but not socially. If I was running a business, I would be want to make as much money as possible.
“But when a pub is successful, the tenant often cannot afford the rents which are increased by the owning company and the pub closes.
“If a pub is continually opening and closing, this undermines the relationship between the customer and the landlord.
“And the closure of a pub is not just a business that it shutting, it is the loss of a real asset for the community.”
Dr Cabras, a lecturer in economics, business and management, has already conducted five years of research into the role of village pubs in creating community cohesion in rural England.
His new 14-month study is being funded through a £7,700 grant from the British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences.
It will collect information at a parish level which will be examined by applying econometric techniques.
The Institute of Public Policy and Research says that each pub injects an average of £80,000 into its local economy.