Small brewers barred from Gov’s plan to help pubs

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Barred breweries: New ways of taxing alcohol will exclude small breweries and cider producers (Getty/ Prostock-Studio)
Barred breweries: New ways of taxing alcohol will exclude small breweries and cider producers (Getty/ Prostock-Studio)

Related tags Brewery Cider Beer Budget Finance

The Chancellor’s plan to help pubs through a new way of taxing alcohol will exclude small brewers and cider producers, new research from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has revealed.

The changes, announced in last year’s Budget, offer a different rate of taxation for beer and cider served from draught, to encourage customers to support licensed venues through drinking in. 

However, the tax break is only applicable to beer and cider served in containers of 40 litres or more, which excludes many of the country’s independent brewers. 

According to CAMRA’s survey which had 395 respondents, 34% of licensees stocked products in containers less than 40 litres to improve the quality and choice of beer and cider for consumers. 

Massive oversimplification

CAMRA chairman Nik Antona said: “Introducing a new, lower rate of duty for draught beer and cider served in pubs and clubs is a hugely important change which recognises that pubs are a force for good in our communities and should be helped to compete with the likes of supermarkets.  

“While 40 litre containers may be the most commonly used size across all beers, using this as a base point for the draught duty relief is a massive oversimplification”. 

The research revealed 46% of venues could only buy some of the beer and cider they wanted in containers of under 40 litres. What’s more, almost one in 10 venues did not have the needed cellar space or opening patterns to be able to sell beer and cider in larger 40 litre containers. 

Unfair exclusion

For Antona, the exclusion of small brewers and cider makers was “unfair”. “If we are to see the benefits of this bold new policy, the Treasury needs to make a small change to their plans and apply this new rate of tax on containers of 20 litres or over,” he said. 

This would help ensure consumers, producers and venues could benefit, and would also keep fresh cask ale and real cider thriving up and down the country. 

The Society of Independent Brewers chief executive James Calder commented that whilst the new draught rate could be a “gamechanger” in helping brewers and pubs recover from Covid, it was “imperative” the Treasury included all container sizes. 

He added: “To ensure that the freshest beer is served in pubs, many small brewers use smaller 20 and 30 litre containers which are currently excluded from the scheme. This is the Government’s opportunity to stand up for the sector by making it 20 and ensuring everyone can benefit".

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