Campaign to cut beer tax debated in Parliament

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Parliamentary campaign: the BBPA is calling for wholesale reform of business rates, and an extension of the current pub-specific relief
Parliamentary campaign: the BBPA is calling for wholesale reform of business rates, and an extension of the current pub-specific relief

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MPs from all political parties spoke out in support of fairer tax treatment for the beer and pub industry in Parliament yesterday.

However, Treasury Minister Andrew Jones refused to confirm exactly what measures, if any, would be presented in the Autumn Budget to protect the sector.

Conservative MP for Dudley South Mike Wood was one of the ministers to speak out in support of pubs, highlighting the 900,000 people who rely on the industry for work and the £23bn the sector adds to the economy.

Wood told MPs that the return to beer duty rises being linked to the Retail Price Index in the Spring Budget had been disappointing, and stressed that more research needed to be done to ascertain whether small-brewer duty relief, as currently framed, was preventing some brewers from expanding.

Drop in event

While the debate was taking place, some 40 MPs attended a drop-in event with the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), to hear about the huge positive impact of brewing and pubs in their constituencies, and to receive a special briefing on the business rates burden being shouldered by pubs in their own patch.

The BBPA is calling for wholesale reform of rates, and an extension of the current, pub-specific relief. MPs were photographed with a special chalk board, with unique statistics for their own areas.

BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds, who hosted the event, said: “It was great to hear so much cross-party support for beer and pubs from MPs in Parliament yesterday. The campaign has achieved widespread recognition that the sector is greatly overtaxed, and that further tax rises in the Budget are unsustainable.

“We now need the Government to turn this goodwill into action, with a cut in beer tax and further action on business rates in the Budget on 22 November.”

MPs urged to 'listen to drinkers'

Prior to the debate, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) suggested more pubs could close​ unless politicians took steps to start supporting the industry.

CAMRA’s national chairman Colin Valentine warned that failure to support pubs would result in “more people drinking at home, less local employment and reduced Government revenue”.

“Time and time again, independent research has shown how vital the pub and brewing sector is to the country as a whole. It’s time MPs listen to beer drinkers and pubgoers in their constituency, and demand the Chancellor takes notice,” he added.

Related topics: Beer, Legislation

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