Government rejects minimum pricing call

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Draught beer Community pubs Beer group Public house

Sutcliffe: sure that the community pub has a positive future
Sutcliffe: sure that the community pub has a positive future
The Government has rejected calls for a minimum price on alcohol and a different duty rate on draught beer to reverse the trend of drinking at home....

The Government has rejected calls for a minimum price on alcohol and a different duty rate on draught beer to reverse the trend of drinking at home.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) rejected the calls in its response to the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group's Community Pubs Report, published last year (Act now to save our locals​).

It said adopting a different rate of duty on draught beer would be against European law. "We are disappointed that the Government has not accepted the proposal for a lower rate of duty on draught beer," said Beer Group secretary Robert Humphreys.

"We will now take this issue to the European Commission in Brussels."

On minimum pricing, the DCMS said: "The Government has decided not to proceed with any national or local measures around minimum unit price.

"While there is good evidence that cheap alcohol is linked to people drinking more and subsequent harm to their health, it is important that any Government interventions reduce harm without impacting unduly on the majority of responsible drinkers."

The DCMS also rejected proposals to abolish gaming duty on the first AWP machine at a pub, force Sky to make subscriptions cheaper for community pubs and give rate relief to pubs that diversify.

However, licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe said he would meet with Sky to see if anything could be done for smaller pubs.

He said a number of recommendations had been or would be accepted including:

• A simplified process for minor variations to licences will be available later this year, subject to Parliamentary approval.

• Tied and leased pubs can apply to the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme.

• From this summer, pubs should be able to benefit from higher stakes and prizes for gaming machines.

• Firm proposals for making the licensing system work better will be brought forward in the summer.

• Pubs will also benefit from the Chancellor's recent announcement regarding the deferral of business rate payments for 2009/10.

"I firmly believe that the community pub does have a positive future," said Sutcliffe. "The challenge for Government is to ensure that conditions exist which allow the pub to do what it has done so many times before — to adapt and innovate in response to changing customer demand, to cement its position as a community resource and to be one of the growth areas as we come out of the current economic climate."


Beer Group chairman John Grogan added: "I think the most encouraging points in the Government's reply was their highlighting of the possibility of extending rate relief to community pubs in urban areas.

"We will certainly be taking them up on their request to provide a sharper definition of the community pub in an effort to get ministers to finally bite the bullet on this important issue.

"Whilst there was no dramatic move on tax, I think the challenge now is to persuade ministers to back plans in Europe for member nations to have a lower rate of duty on draught beer. We will begin this process next week by tabling an Early Day Motion on this issue."

The Community Pubs Report, which began in 2006, recently came under fire from a Dispatches programme on Channel 4, which highlighted its failure to mention the beer tie and the Beer Group's list of sponsors, which include pubcos.

The claims were vehemently denied by the Beer Group, which said it had chosen to not investigate the tie since a select committee had looked at the issue in 2004 and it did not wish to cover old ground.

Related topics Legislation

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