Alcohol duty reform delay ‘extremely disappointing’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Trade response: sector leaders have reacted with disappointment about the delay to the legislation (image: Getty/Aleli Dezmen)
Trade response: sector leaders have reacted with disappointment about the delay to the legislation (image: Getty/Aleli Dezmen)

Related tags Legislation Government Tax Beer

Trade bodies have reacted to the Government’s announcement of delays to the next stages of the alcohol duty reform system

In October 2021, the Government was revealed the primary legislation would be published in the summer this year for consultation in order for it to be introduced through the 2022/23 finance bill.

In a written statement yesterday (Wednesday 20 July), it was announced the Government would be responding in the autumn before the changes are set to be implemented by 1 February 2023.

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “The delay to the alcohol duty reform is extremely disappointing and will come as a blow to pub and brewing business who have been waiting on an announcement since this year’s Spring Statement.

“We would urge any new Government to keep these reforms on track to guarantee a reduced rate of draught beer duty that helps Britain’s brewers and pubs and supports lower-strength products as soon as possible.”

The Society of Independent Brewers chair Roy Allkin said brewers had been left in limbo over the changes.

Much-needed boost

He added: “Independent brewers have been waiting on tenterhooks for the next stages of the alcohol duty changes and deeply disappointed we’ll now have to wait until the autumn to know what the final reforms look like.

“These changes include the draught duty rate that will provide a much-needed boost to community pubs and independent brewers by providing a duty discount on beer sold in pubs.

“This delay puts the Government’s timetable for implementation at risk, leaving little time to consult on changes to legislation in the autumn.

Many small and independent brewers have already made business decisions for next year that rely on these widespread changes to duty being introduced on time and any delay will create further uncertainty.

“Small brewers and pubs have been left in limbo at a time when businesses need support as they have to deal with a multitude of supply constraints and the cost-of-living crisis.

“We call on the Government to commit to achieving the changes in February next year and ensuring community pubs and independent brewers will be able to benefit from the new draught duty rate as soon as possible.”

More help needed

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chief executive Tom Stainer echoed Allkin’s comments on the industry needing Government support.

He said: “With the beer and pubs sector continuing to be hit hard by rising prices, spiralling energy costs and the knock-on effects of a dip in consumer confidence and spending it is clear our locals – and the great brewers and cider producers that serve them – need more help from the Government if they are to survive and thrive in the coming months and years.

“That’s why introducing the new system of alcohol taxation designed to give pubs, social clubs and taprooms support through a new preferential rate of duty charged on beer and cider served on draught compared to the likes of supermarket alcohol is so important.”

He went on to say the organisation was expecting important details to be announced on the replacement of the small brewer’s relief scheme.

Stainer added: “Meaning more uncertainty for small brewers feeling the burden of the cost of business crisis much more acutely than their globally-owned counterparts.

“CAMRA welcomed the Government’s commitment to this new way of taxing beer and cider but we are now calling on the Treasury to bring forward firm plans on how this will work practice and announce when it will be introduced as quickly as possible to give our pubs the helping hand they desperately need.

“In the meantime, through our Summer of Pub ​campaign, we are continuing to urge people to support their locals as much as possible as well as calling on the Government for extra support for pubs and breweries through a VAT cut for food and drink served in pubs, extending business rates relief and offering businesses help with rising energy costs.”

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