Pub industry chiefs could be forgiven for not cracking open a few beers over today's pledge of Government funding for the sector.

The Government today lauded a GBP4m (US$6m) injection of public money into the community pub sector over the next three years.

Around 40 pubs are closing down every week, according to industry figures, and the Government money will help struggling community pubs to remain open.

While the funding is unlikely to be rebuffed by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), there will be many who argue that the Government has missed the point.

Critics would accuse the Government of giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Next week's Budget is set to include at least  a 2% above inflation rise on duty tax for alcoholic drinks, with beer and wine tax already up 20% inside two years.

At current inflation, the Budget would provide for another 5% rise on beer, wine and spirits.

The industry is not calling for handouts, but it is calling for the Governmnent to back off on regulation and artificial price inflation.