Neame calls for fairer beer tax

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Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame has called for fairer treatment of beer in the Budget. Speaking in a Radio Four debate on You and...

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame has called for fairer treatment of beer in the Budget.

Speaking in a Radio Four debate on You and Yours, he said: "In the last 10 years, the Government has taxed beer very hard. It has been made more expensive, which has made the pub more expensive and the supermarkets relatively cheaper.

"That has shifted sales to the supermarkets and consumption away from low-alcohol products like beer to high-alcohol products like vodka.

"That can't be right. We think it is in the social, economic and cultural interests of the country to support beer in pubs."

Taking part in the same debate, MA editor Andrew Pring claimed the pub trade's biggest challenge is to recruit able retailers, but that if the support was not there from pubcos it could cause a big problem. Pring said: "If people see that running a pub is a difficult business and that people are not making much money, then why would you come in to do it?

"So, the pubcos have to help people and make it more attractive."

Freedom for Pubs Associa-tion frontman Mike Bell, who runs Enterprise's Portobello Gold in Notting Hill, attacked the beer tie. He said the tie must change if pubs were to survive the current economic conditions.

"The way it used to work is you had the brewer and the licensee and no one in between. You didn't have a middle man [the pubco] taking out a large chunk of the industry's money."

He added: "We have ended up with property companies owning massive amounts of pubs and they are just squeezing for rent the whole time. There is no let up."

Related topics: Beer

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