George Osborne has been urged to freeze tax on beer in next month's Budget, as campaigners released figures showing that one-third of the cost of a pint in a pub goes straight to the taxman.

The TaxPayers' Alliance said the Chancellor should call time on the "beer duty escalator" which has increased the tax by 42% in the past four years.

Beer duty in the UK is the second highest in the European Union and 10 times the level in Germany, said TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair.

He cited figures from the Campaign for Real Ale showing that more than 5,800 pubs have closed since the 2008 introduction of the escalator, which hikes the duty by 2% above inflation and is set to continue until 2015.

Launching the "mash beer tax" campaign, Mr Sinclair said: "Beer is already taxed more in the UK than almost every other country in Europe. Yet another rise in beer duty at this year's Budget would be a further blow to people already struggling with the increasing cost of living.

"It would also harm the scores of pubs whose existence is under threat because ever higher taxes are putting people off going for a drink.

"In opposition, Conservative and Lib Dem politicians were quick to decry the beer duty escalator for the burden it places on people wanting to enjoy a drink and the threat it poses to pubs up and down the country. They're now in a position to do something about it.

"The abolition of the beer duty escalator is long overdue and a freeze in the rate at this year's Budget would help people coping with so many other pressures on their finances."