This year has been one of the most difficult in history for pubs, according to the licensed trade body.

UK closures accelerated to five a day in the first half of this year, according to new figures.

This is a sharp increase on 2007, according to the British Beer and Pub Association, which says the numbers show the damage done if the Government presses ahead with its planned tax rises when the industry is facing such difficulties.

Rob Hayward, chief executive of the BBPA said: “These numbers are a stark illustration of the pressures on the pub sector. Economic stresses and strains are being felt by every household and acutely by Britain’s public houses. Sliding consumer confidence and spiralling inflation are hitting pubs two ways. Not only are the costs of running a pub increasing, but fewer people through the door means less cash in tills.

“Despite this, the Government seems intent on increasing the burden on pubs. Its proposals to target pubs with new red tape such as statutory codes of conduct and ratchet up taxes with its beer duty escalator will only worsen matters. Such policies will drive up costs for pubs and prices for punters. Government needs to wake up to what’s happening in the real world of the pub.”

Sales of beer are at their lowest since the great depression of the 1930s. The BBPA says the promise of further tax increases every year, through the Chancellor’s controversial ‘duty escalator’, is untenable and could lead to the closure of many more much-loved community pubs.

Mr Hayward added, “Thousands of much loved community pubs are under threat. They are at the heart of every community and a major tourist draw for Britain. Without a change of heart from the Government, many more are facing closure.

“With so many pubs in peril, the Government’s threat of further stealth taxes on beer cannot go unanswered. And with food and fuel prices rocketing, this is a terrible time to be hitting pubgoers with more taxes.”

A spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale agreed, saying only action from the Government over beer duty could save ailing pubs.

He said: “Camra is campaigning and talking to people to try to reduce the beer duty, to give the pubs a break. Otherwise I can see the situation getting worse, unfortunately.”