HE has become the unlikely poster boy for Scotland's struggling pub trade.

A photograph of Chancellor George Osborne, raising a pint, is now adorning pubs across the nation as traditional bars hope for and expect a buoyant holiday period due to the ending of a beer tax.

With the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) launching its Community Pubs Month in April, Scotland's two main pub lobbying groups have said the move to scrap a beer duty escalator and cut the price of a pint by 1p promised to be a factor in encouraging people to head out for an evening.

But with between three and five pubs a week still closing in Scotland, they have urged Scottish ministers to follow suit and pull out the stops to assist the industry.

Camra chief executive Mike Benner said: "The Chancellor has become the toast of Britain's cash-strapped beer drinkers and we should now be paying around 10p less per pub pint than we would have been had the escalator remained in place in last week's Budget.

"This is a massive victory for Britain's 15 million beer drinkers.

"We are urging people to celebrate in their local throughout Community Pubs Month.

"Research shows many people are using pubs less in these difficult times and this tax cut is an important step in the right direction to support this great British industry and get people back into an essential community amenity, the pub."

Camra is planning campaigns over the next 10 months aimed at raising the profile of pub-going and increasing the number of regulars.

It said research showed one-third of pub-goers would be more likely to visit their local more often if they held more events.

According to Patrick Browne, who heads the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, which has 5000 members north of the Border, one chain has been hanging pictures of Mr Osborne in its venues as a "corporate thanks".

He said rural pubs, often the heart of communities, had been badly hit in recent years and any support the Scottish Government could direct towards the industry should help them stay in business.

Mr Browne, whose organisation also includes major brewers, said: "The 1p in the pint was more a symbolic thing than bringing in the masses, but at least Osborne has recognised the problem with the escalator and the percentage beer had gone up by.

"It was hitting us very hard."