DWINDLING numbers of pubs could be given a reprieve under plans which are being backed by one of the town’s MPs - after it was revealed Barnsley’s boozers are worth almost £50m to the local economy.

MP John Healey, who represents Wentworth and Dearne, has supported calls to bring in a preferential duty for draught beer to help address the amount of pubs closing their doors.

The proposal has been put forward by members of CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale - and it would mean beer sold on tap would be taxed at a lower rate to that sold in supermarkets, encouraging people to enjoy a pint in a pub.

Due to beer duty and business rates, one third of the cost of a pub pint is now made up of tax.

The beer and pub sector contributes £22.9bn to the UK economy each year - including £48m in Barnsley - as well as 2,562 jobs in the town, according to a recent report into pubs’ importance.

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John, who is a member of CAMRA and was the country’s first pubs minister, said: “Brewing and pubs are a vital part of the UK economy, on which nearly a million jobs depend, including thousands in South Yorkshire.

“CAMRA’s proposal would see a lower rate of tax for beer sold on tap, which would be a real boost for pubs.

“In many places the pub is the centre for social, recreational and charitable activity. For many people the local pub is one of the things that helps define the place where they live.”

CAMRA say pub-goers would see a cut in the cost of a pint and the government would be encouraging more responsible alcohol consumption.

The number of pub closures has dropped slightly from a rate of 18 a week nationally during 2018, something which CAMRA claim has been helped by its success in achieving new local planning protection for pubs in England.

However, Yorkshire and the Humber remains the worst-hit area for closures, but it’s hoped the downward trend could be reversed by the beer tax changes.

Jackie Parker, CAMRA’s national chairman, said: “Pubs are a very important part of our national culture and are valuable community assets which help to combat loneliness and social isolation.

“Protecting pubs in the English planning system was a necessity and a welcome move from the government, however it has taken nearly two years for the trickle-down effects of the planning changes to show.

“These changes will level the playing field between the price of beer sold in social, community settings and cheap supermarket alcohol consumed at home.

“We believe this is one of three key measures the government needs to take urgently to halt the tide of pub closures.

“We want a full reviews both of the business rates system to fix the unfair amount pubs pay, and the currently ineffective legislation designed to enable pub tenants to get a fair deal from their big-business property owners - both moves the government has promised but is yet to carry out.”