50 MPS BACK CAMRA CAMPAIGN TO CUT BEER DUTY
by Lauren Eads
A letter signed by 50 UK MPs from across all parties has been delivered to the Treasury in support of British pubs, calling on the chancellor to freeze beer duty for the rest of this Parliament and introduce an annual £5,000 business rate relief for pubs ahead of next week’s Budget.

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In March the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced that alcohol duties will increase, with inflation, lifting a freeze on beer and spirits duties which had been imposed in 2015. From 13 March 2017, duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits had was subject to RPI inflation, ending a freeze that had protected beer from further duty increases to help support struggling landlords.

For beer, it meant that duty paid on a pint of beer increased by two pence, with the real increase in beer tax is about £130 million, according to stats provided by the British Beer and Pub Association.

CAMRA’s letter comes in the wake of a Parliamentary debate in which 24 MPs urged the Government to ease the growing tax burden on pubs, which are on average paying nearly £140,000 in taxes every year, ahead of the Budget this week.

“Pubs play a hugely important role in our social lives and the cohesion of their local communities,” said Tim Page, CAMRA’s chief executive. “They act as a common meeting ground for friends, family and colleagues alike, helping to bring people from all walks of life together. In many areas they are the last remaining public meeting space, with so many libraries and meeting halls already lost.

“Yet pubs cannot continue to shoulder such a massive tax burden and ultimately it is the consumer that is affected when the price of a pint goes up. We need the Treasury to act now by delivering a Budget for Britain’s pubs.”

Ahead of the November Budget, CAMRA is calling for a permanent £5,000 business rate relief for all pubs in England as well as a freeze, or reduction in, beer duty for the rest of this Parliament.

“The beer duty escalator [which was scrapped in 2013] increased beer duty by a staggering 42% over six years,” said Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group. “During this time, the annual decline in sales of beer in pubs nearly doubled and 7,000 pubs called time for good with over 58,000 beer-dependent jobs being lost.

“We cannot let this happen again. Loading any extra taxes onto pubs risks leading to more pubs closing – putting future tax revenues at risk. I am urging the Chancellor to freeze beer duty in the Budget and reduce the disproportionately high business rates currently paid by pubs. This will be good for beer, good for pubs but, most importantly, good for the UK economy.”

The November Budget will be delivered on Wednesday, 22 November.

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