MPs back bid to raise brewers' relief

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Progressive beer duty, Cask ale

MPs from across the House of Commons are signing up to a motion in Parliament supporting progressive beer duty (PBD).The Campaign for Real Ale...

MPs from across the House of Commons are signing up to a motion in Parliament supporting progressive beer duty (PBD).

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has been lobbying MPs to back the early day motion, which now has 37 signatories.

The motion states its support for the system of PBD (also known as small brewer's relief) and also calls for an extension of the brewing limit from 60,000 to 200,000 hectolitres.

PBD was introduced in 2002 to improve microbrewers' access to market and help them combat bigger brewers with more favourable economies of scale. An extension to 200,000 hectolitres would give brewers including Black Sheep, Brains, Caledonian, Everards, Hardys & Hansons, Timothy Taylors, Wadworth and Wychwood the opportunity to benefit.

There have been calls for a governmental review of the PBD duty system in recent weeks from brewers such as Adnams. They argue that the system attracts "hobby brewers" only interested in exploiting the tax break for financial gain rather than improving the quality and distribution of cask ale.

However, Jonathan Mail, head of public affairs at CAMRA, believes an increase of the upper limit to 200,000 hectolitres would actually go some way to ironing out these problems and encourage microbrewers to grow their businesses.

"There will be a much more gradual tapering of duty relief if the limit is increased to 200,000 hectolitres. So we would like to see brewers who brew just under 60,000 hectolitres to grow their business and go above [this limit]," he said. "PBD should not be used to discount beer prices as that doesn't help increase the market. It is about growing the overall cask beer market."

Rupert Thompson, chief executive of Refresh UK, which owns the Wychwood brewery - currently sitting just above the 60,000 limit - told The Publican he still felt a review was the best way forward.

"We are delighted CAMRA has recognised this issue but we are looking for a full review from the Treasury," he said. "There are other dimensions to this. What we are all looking for is a level playing field."

CAMRA has revealed that there are now 570 small and regional brewers in the UK compared to only 440 in 2002 - and it puts this increase down to the impact of PBD.

Related topics: Legislation

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