Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, has delivered an open letter, signed by 50 Conservative MPs, to the Treasury, calling on the Chancellor to cut beer duty and the scrap retail price index (RPI) inflationary increases in beer duty policy.
Speaking from Westminster, Mr Evans spoke about the importance of the pub trade, and why a cut is necessary for the industry as a whole.
He said: “It is absolutely vital that the Chancellor takes the contents of this letter into account during next week’s Budget, and I am pleased to have gained the support of such a vast amount of my Conservative colleagues.
On average, a pint of beer in the UK is taxed 11.5 times higher than the equivalent pint in Germany, with the UK paying 40% of all beer duty in the EU, but consuming just 12% of the beer. This puts the British hospitality and tourism industry at a disadvantage relative to other European countries, and discourages much-needed investment in the industry, say campaigners.
“Every month, more than 30 million people visit pubs across the UK. They act as places for people to come together and as social hubs for people from all walks of life. Pubs do not just benefit customers, though. The pub trade supports more than 900,000 jobs nationwide, and contributes more than £23 billion to the UK economy. In my constituency alone, pubs contribute £3.1 million in corporation tax.”
Mr Evans highlighted in his letter how seven out of every ten drinks purchased in a pub is beer, and as such how it is the main source of income for these small businesses. From 2008 to 2013, while beer duty rises took place, more than 5,000 local pubs closed down, with more than 58,000 jobs were lost. This also has an effect on the Treasury’s income, with it receiving less and less additional revenue.
Since 2013, there have been policies of cuts and freezes to beer duty. However, the new policy of tying beer duty to RPI will, over time, reverse these cuts, the MPs wrote.
Mr Evans said: “The policy of cuts and freezes from 2013 managed somewhat to stabilise pub closures. If a similar move is taken in this autumn Budget, we would have much to be thankful to the Chancellor for — he would instantaneously become a hero of the pub trade.”
“The investment back into the pub trade that we saw in 2013 helped to safeguard more than 20,000 jobs which would otherwise have been lost. By cutting beer duty we would prevent the stifling of our local community pubs, and help ensure the sustainability of the British brewing industry for years to come.”
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “It is great to see 50 Conservative MPs calling on the Chancellor to back British brewing and pubs in the Budget next week. The campaign to cut beer tax has really gathered pace in recent weeks.
“Nigel Evans has long been a friend of our sector and he is to be commended for taking the initiative in rallying his colleagues to the beer and pub cause. I hope the Chancellor will listen to the advice of his colleagues on the backbenches and take action to help our great British brewing industry.”
James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: “All the evidence shows that cuts to beer duty leads to more jobs and more investment, and that tax increases cost jobs and stifle growth in the beer industry.
“Events we are running in pubs up and down the country are showing huge support for this campaign. The chancellor should look at the facts and announce a cut to beer duty for the economy, for jobs and for the Great British pub.”