Slash beer duty at the Budget to revive pub sector, MPs urge

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Budget demands: some 68 MPs have asked Chancellor Rishi Sunak to announce a beer duty cut on 3 March (image: Pippa Fowles, No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)
Budget demands: some 68 MPs have asked Chancellor Rishi Sunak to announce a beer duty cut on 3 March (image: Pippa Fowles, No 10 Downing Street on Flickr)

Related tags lockdown Legislation Beer Public house coronavirus Health and safety

Some 68 Conservative MPs have urged the Chancellor to slash beer duty in the Budget next week, saying this would encourage punters back to the pub.

Backbenchers wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut the duty in the upcoming Budget on 3 March, to help pubs recover from months of closure and restrictions amid the pandemic.

Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, organised the letter and said: “Our pubs are at the heart of our communities and lockdown has hit them harder than any other sector.

"Whilst the Government support has been welcome, it has not made up for the massive impact of being closed for so long on these vital local institutions."

Best encouragement

He added: "The best way for them to build back better after this crisis is to get people back into pubs and the best encouragement for publicans and the public is to see real action on beer duty.”

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) found the phased reopening of pubs would cost the sector £1.5bn in lost trade in April, with three in five sites choosing to not reopen for outdoor service only.

Trade bodies have also suggested the recovery of the hospitality sector will be a long road, as consumer confidence returns and restrictions are slowly eased. 

UK pubs foot an annual bill pf £3.6bn in beer duty, higher than their counterparts in Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland combined.

David Cunningham, programme director for the Long Live The Local campaign, which calls for beer duty to be slashed, said he was pleased to see a high number of MPs support the call.

The campaign has gathered more than 500,000 petition signatures calling for a cut and 275,000 people have written to their MP on the issue. 

Vital role

Cunningham added: "Each signature and email represent someone who cares deeply about pubs and breweries and wants the Government to ensure they can continue to play a vital role in their local community and economy."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs this week that there had been a review into the different duty rates between pubs and supermarkets.

Responding to Tory MP Giles Watling at Prime Minister’s Questions (Wednesday 24 February), Jonson said the Chancellor was “looking very closely at the findings” of the review.

Pub operator and Long Live the Local campaigner Jodie Kidd said licensees like her were facing the daunting prospect of increased taxes as they approach the reopening of pubs.

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