Brewery trade calls for tax freeze on beer

Industry leaders in the beer trade have called on the UK government to freeze its plan to raise taxes on beer and help save 7,500 jobs.

Beer tax has risen by 20% since March 2008, raising the industry’s tax bill by £600m during one of the harshest recessions.

It is due to increase by 2% above inflation in the March budget.

However, the British Beer & Pub Association is arguing that the beverage should be taxed at a lower rate of duty to reflect its status as a low-strength, UK produced product.

The move would help support British pubs and brewing, with 400,000 UK jobs depending directly on the production and sale of beer, it said.

The BBPA warned that pubs are closing at an unprecedented rate, accelerating from two per week in 2005, to more than five every day, and said a duty freeze in the forthcoming budget would save 7,500 jobs in the next 12 months.

Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive said it was time for the government to recognise the social, community and economic value of a low-strength drink like beer and social drinking in pubs.

“By treating beer differently in duty rates we can support a home-grown industry and safeguard thousands of jobs.”

She added: “Pubs are at the heart of our community and make a significant contribution to our economy. Beer is an iconic British drink, yet the impact of blunt duty increases has further hit our ability to generate economic activity to help pull Britain out of recession.”

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