Jonathan Neame "living in hope" over beer duty freeze

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Executive jonathan neame, Neame chief executive, Legislation, Jonathan neame

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said he was "living in hope" that next month's Budget would not see an increase in beer duty.Neame, who...

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said he was "living in hope" that next month's Budget would not see an increase in beer duty.

Neame, who heads the British Beer & Pub Association's duty panel, said the industry had done "a reasonable job" last year in trying to persuade the government not to raise duty on beer, but that its efforts had been much better this time around.

"In terms of profile things are much better," he said.

There was a higher level of awareness among MPs regarding the damaging effect the duty increase, together with other aspects of government legislation, was having on British pubs, he added.

Last year's increase, plus that raised in the pre-Budget Report, were cases of "knee- jerk capriciousness", Neame said.

The situation could be repeated in the next Budget, he believed, although any increase might not be large. "But we want a complete freeze," Neame said.

Asked whether he thought any of the opposition parties offered a brighter future for pubs, Neame said in the medium term this may be the case.

"The different communities in Parliament are all alive to the issues, and the pressure on government over this will be maintained.

"One thing is for certain. Beer in pubs will last a lot longer than this government," he added.

Neame was speaking as his company announced half year profits down 28 per cent at £3.6m on turnover up 7.3 per cent at £56.2m.

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