In a couple of days, Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver the Government’s delayed and much anticipated Spring Budget.
I hope he will recognise the benefits a thriving pub and brewing sector brings not just to our economy, supporting almost 900,000 jobs, generating £23bn in GDP and paying £13bn in taxes, but also to our local communities and national culture.
Former Chancellor Sajid Javid recently announced business rates relief for up to 18,000 pubs saying: “Our beloved locals are a place where people from all walks of life come together – I, like many, love nothing better than sipping on a cold beer at the end of a busy week.”
This announcement was very welcome and his quote encouraging, but I urge Rishi Sunak to go further on 11 March.
The Long Live The Local campaign has received huge support this year, with 25,000 pubs supporting the campaign, leading to more than 255,000 people asking Government for a cut in beer tax. This wouldn’t have been possible without the active support of publicans around the country and, for that, I thank you.
I am hopeful that this strong show of support will lead to a reduction or at least a freeze in beer tax.
In 2018, 19,000 publicans supported our then new campaign and 117,000 people signed a petition asking for a cut in beer tax. Chancellor at the time Phillip Hammond responded by both cutting business rates and freezing beer duty. Together these have helped stem the decline in pub closures for the first time in many years. These could be the start of a recovery – but early-stage recovery is fragile and needs nurturing and further Government support.
This year, with more than a quarter of a million people making their voice heard, I hope the new Chancellor listens and responds with a cut in beer duty. I also hope that he announces a much needed fundamental review of business rates and alcohol duty to help our beloved 48,000 local pubs and 2,000 breweries and the communities they serve thrive in the future.