CAMRA operate two discount schemes: the Voucher Scheme, with £30 of 50p vouchers sent to members each year, redeemable in any pubs which enrol in the scheme, predominantly larger chains; and the Real Ale Discount Scheme, which simply promotes discounts offered by pubs not in the voucher scheme, mostly independents.

Norwich & District Branch policy in this area is as follows:

  • We do not believe that either scheme damages pubs in any way – see below for why.
  • We therefore support both schemes
  • However, we will never ask any pub to offer a discount, or prioritise in any way pubs which do or don’t choose to do so.
  • We urge our members to use WhatPub to determine whether pubs offer a discount, rather than asking at the bar.

WhatPub, CAMRA’s national pub guide, has lists of pubs enrolled in the Voucher Scheme and the Real Ale Discount Scheme.

Any publican wishing to change their policy regarding CAMRA discount should contact

Don’t discounts take money away from the pubs we’re supposed to support, or damage small, independent pubs in favour of large chains?
This is a question of often raised when the subject of discounts is raised. The arguments in favour are as follows:

  • sending every member £30 of discount vouchers every year encourages them to visit larger, chain pubs, rather than small independents
  • pubs cannot afford to offer discounts, and may feel obliged to
  • expecting ‘cheap beer’ devalues real ale as a category
  • giving discounts mean pubs, especially chains, pay brewers less for their product, driving them out of business

We don’t agree with the above, for the following reasons:

  • while some members may base their choice of drinking establishment on price, most do not – proximity and atmosphere are far bigger drivers. And £30 pays for about 6 or 7 pints a year, which is nowhere near enough to significantly influence anyone’s behaviour.
  • it is far more likely that the vouchers are mostly used when the member would have been visiting that pub anyway, because other members of the party wished to, or as part of a pub crawl, or for food.
  • we believe that pubs offer a discount because they believe it will be good for their business, and that we shouldn’t be telling them how to run that business. If a pub can’t afford to offer a discount, then they shouldn’t do so, and nobody in CAMRA should expect them to.
  • the total value of CAMRA discounts is unknown, but the Voucher Scheme involves sending out about £4m worth of vouchers, of which less than 25%, £1m, is actually redeemed, in a market of several £billion – only 1 in several thousand pints sold is sold at a discount.
  • the public in general have no knowledge whatsoever of the CAMRA discount schemes, which therefore have no effect on their perception of the value of real ale.
  • and the tiny fraction of pints sold at a discount will have no significant effect on pubs’ profits, or the prices they pay to breweries, which are determined by much larger national and international factors.