More than three quarters (78%) of the British public believe that pubs are important for community spirit and are calling on the Government to end duty hikes so they can continue visiting their local.

Ahead of this week’s Budget announcement, 97% of Britons said alcoholic drinks in pubs or restaurants are too expensive and price hikes would mean there would be more likely to socialise at home than support their local bar or restaurant, according to a poll of 2,000 UK adults by the Call Time On Duty campaign. 87% said they already believe the British pub is struggling and 79% said the Government should do more to help the hospitality sector.

More than 80% of the men and women polled said that they enjoyed a drink when they were socializing with friends or families, with wine replacing beer as the drink they are most likely to choose. Meanwhile, one in six said they met their current partner while out socializing, while 13% admitted to making a life-changing decision.

The Call Time on Duty Campaign – spearheaded by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), the TaxPayers’ Alliance at the Scotch Whisky Association - is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to scrap the Alcohol Duty Escalator, which automatically increases duty on wine and spirits by inflation plus 2%, and freeze duties, in his Budget 2014 announcement.

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “The British public love to socialise. They love pubs and restaurants - catching up with friends and family and meeting new people. But they are being gradually priced out of this pleasure by ridiculous levels of tax on their drinks. That means both people and local small businesses are suffering.

“The Government could address this in the Budget by scrapping the Alcohol Duty Escalator once and for all and freezing duties. If not, further increases will have a devastating impact on pubs, clubs, restaurants and communities across the UK.”

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “These findings show that pubs, bars and restaurants are increasingly reliant on wine sales to boost their revenue. We are calling on the Chancellor to help save the British pub by scrapping his inflation-busting alcohol super tax in the upcoming Budget.”