NEW figures showing pub closures have accelerated to 31 per week have led to calls to reduce taxes and ease the smoking ban on the local boozer.

The figures are released as part of real ale group Camra's "Pubs Matter"campaign and show 3% of pubs in the suburbs have shut in the past six months.

Paul Nuttall, UKIP’s deputy leader and Northwest MEP, said “It is completely unfair that pubs are paying nearly ten times more tax on a price of a pint in comparison to supermarkets.

"The smoking ban also severely hit pubs right across the country - if landlords want a well-ventilated room set aside for smokers they should be able to make that choice.

"This move along with reducing VAT for the hospitality industry would support local pubs and decelerate the rate they’re closing each and every week”.

He added: “Cheap deals in big superstores ultimately leads to more people drinking large quantities before they go out, leading to even greater losses for pub landlords.

“A host of countries across Europe have lower levels of VAT in order to protect hospitality businesses. The end result is more bars are staying open and employing more people”.

Camra said pubs support more than a million jobs and each contributes an average of £80,000 to its local economy each year.

The smoking ban in England - making it illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places - came into force in July 2007 under the Health Act.

A review of evidence on the impact in England in 2012 was commissioned by the Government and carried out by Professor Linda Bauld from the University of Stirling and the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.

Professor Bauld's report concluded: "The law has had a significant impact."

"Results show benefits for health, changes in attitudes and behaviour - and no clear adverse impact on the hospitality industry."

One of the few places where it is still NOT illegal to light up is inside the Palace of Westminster, but in the "spirit of the law" MPs and Lords have restricted smoking to just four areas in the grounds.