'Pubs being strangled in red tape'

By Gemma McKenna

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Red tape, Beer, Alcoholic beverage

Turner: help needed to save the pub
Turner: help needed to save the pub
British pubs are being "strangled in red tape" by the Government, which will destroy £8bn worth of economic activity by 2012. That was the message...

British pubs are being "strangled in red tape" by the Government, which will destroy £8bn worth of economic activity by 2012.

That was the message from Fuller's and British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) chairman Michael Turner in a hard-hitting speech given at the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and BBPA's annual Christmas reception.

He said current legislation meant "7,500 families will be made homeless and the community hub will disappear from 7,500 locations".

Turner added: "We don't ask for special treatment, we just want consistency and understanding."

He said problems facing the industry included the "staggering" rise in beer duty — up almost 18% since last year — and the overwhelming amount of new legislation. He complained that the 300 pieces of legislation that have hit the industry since 1997 are punishing "families that are ill-equipped to cope with this additional burden, and the enormous cost of compliance".

He highlighted the massive contribution made by the UK brewing and pub industries to the economy — they employ 600,000 people, purchase 40% of UK malting barley, pay duty and VAT of £6bn and contribute taxes of £25bn. In the past five years 44,000 jobs have been lost in the sector and Turner called for help to avoid "losing another 44,000 jobs in the next five years".

The chairman emphasised alcohol misuse as an area of "major concern" but pointed out that since 2004, UK alcohol consumption has dropped by 7%. He went on to express "amazement" at the Chancellor's decision to halve the duty increase on vodka and alcopops — "the source of the pre-fuelling that causes binge drinking".

He said the dire state of the industry on the stock market — with the six largest operators down 61%-94% — was a sign of how tough trading had become.

He urged top industry names present to support the "Axe the Beer Tax, Save the Pub" initiative.

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