Britain’s Beer Alliance has warned North Devon and Torridge’s £50million pub industry could take a hit if beer duty is raised in today’s Budget as expected.

Tax on beer is expected to rise by 3.4 per cent in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, which is being delivered today (Monday).

With consumers increasingly opting for cheaper supermarket drinks and pub margins stretched, local establishments are braced for further struggles.

New analysis from Oxford Economics shows North Devon and Torridge’s 222 pubs directly employ 1,691 people, paying out £17.4million in wages.

The also support hundreds of jobs indirectly, either though those in the supply chain or through the money spent by people working in the pub industry.

North Devon’s pubs contribute £34million to the local and national economy, with Torridge contributing £17million.

A national survey conducted by Britain’s Beer Alliance, an umbrella organisation for major brewers and pub companies, showed more than a third of people would reconsider a trip to the pub if beer prices increased.

It also showed that a decrease in pubs could cause more than just financial loss, with 77 per cent saying they go to the pub as a place to relax and unwind, and two in five saying it acts a social hub.

David Cunningham, programme director of Britain’s Beer Alliance, said: “Pubs are the heart and soul of our culture and communities, they support many jobs, contribute significantly to the economy and are dear to people’s hearts right across the country.

“Pubs already face a range of tax pressures and if the Chancellor raises beer duty in line with Retail Price Index inflation as planned on October 29, pubs will feel the pinch even more.

“Seven in every 10 alcoholic drinks sold in a pub is beer, so it’s easy to see how a small tax increase adds up over a year.”

There are six breweries in Torridge, supporting 68 jobs and adding £1.4 million to the economy, according to the Oxford Economics analysis.

There are 12 in North Devon, supporting 117 jobs and adding £2.5million to the economy.