Speaking at the launch of the campaign by the British Beer & Pub Association and TaxPayers Alliance to cut beer tax, Nigel Evans MP, called on Philip Hammond to follow George Osborne’s lead and reduce the duty on beer.
He said that with more than 900,000 people employed in pubs and brewing, the industry contributed significantly to the economy and a reduction in duty could help boost the tax take.
“Under the previous Chancellor, he tried an experiment - he reduced the taxation on beer. We never thought it would happen and we’re grateful.
“We got three successive reductions and we saw the value of that, as all of a sudden, the tax take started to go up. When you start to tax disproportionately, the total amount of take does go down.”
Look to Germany
Evans said the UK had the third highest taxation rate on beer within the European Union, and said the government should look to the example of Germany which has one of the lowest.
He also called for a variation on duty, which could see lower ABV drinks taxed less. “When we’re trying to encourage people to drink less strong beers, then there is a possibility that [the Chancellor] could introduce a different rate for beers between 2.8% and 3.5% to encourage people to drink less strong beers and then maybe stay a bit longer in the pubs.
“At the moment the Government says we can’t do that because of the European Union. Well, I’ve got a bit of news for them. I don’t know if they’ve noticed, but we’re leaving the EU. That’s number one. But number two is that there’s nothing to stop them from introducing a new rate, and we’ve got legal advice that they are able to do that now.
“We have the third highest tax on beer in the EU, and there’s only one industry caned more and that’s smoking - they want to eradicate smoking from the country, is that what they want to do to the brewing industry? Surely not. In which case they’ve got to start to get a new approach to the industry and the pubs we all love.
“The battle to save the pub is on, and the battle to reduce taxation is on.”