The motion, proposed at CAMRA’s AGM in Coventry this weekend, argued that the organisation should campaign for a reduction in the level of relief for smaller brewers, coupled with an increase in the barrelage on which it is granted.
CAMRA’s members, however, overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, stating that passing the motion would be a retrograde step that would reduce the number of breweries and choice for beer drinkers.
Higher prices warning
CAMRA national director Ian Packham urged members to reject the motion, stating that increasing the tax breweries paid by reducing SBR would lead to higher prices for drinkers and brewery closures.
“This calls on CAMRA to campaign for an increase in tax on brewers, which is a dramatic reversal in CAMRA’s policy and campaigning over the last 40 years,” he added.
The motion was proposed by Brian Sheriden, who argued that small breweries were responsible for “undercutting” in the cask ale market, and stated he would rather see “hundreds” of microbreweries go out of business than lose one of the larger independents.
“Let’s support the breweries who know what they are doing (and this does include some micros) and lets expose the pretence that the microbrewery revolution is unmitigated good news.”
The AGM was told that further discussions to find a solution to the discussion of beer duty were ongoing. CAMRA’s position has been and remains that the brewing industry should find a compromise and present a single proposal to the Government in support of its wish for SBR to be reviewed.
Meanwhile, the breweries behind the campaign to reform beer duty for small brewers have launched a website outlining their proposals.
The Small Brewers Duty Relief Coalition (SBDRC) consists of around 70 brewers committed to reforming SBR. The website outlines the brewers' proposals – which are currently not supported by CAMRA or the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) – and can be viewed at https://reformsbr.com.
The coalition claims that the current system of duty, while helping to create a number of new microbreweries, has created disincentives for brewers to expand and grow production.