MPs from across the political divide have called on the Chancellor to back the 250,000 supporters of the Long Live the Local campaign and cut beer duty at the upcoming Budget.
MPs supported the campaign in a Westminster Hall debate on taxation on beer and pubs, secured by Mike Wood MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group.
More than 50 MPs from all parties and nations of the United Kingdom attended the debate. They spoke in support of fairer tax treatment for the sector in order to boost British brewing and pubs.
In response, Treasury Minister Simon Clarke MP recognised the challenges facing the sector and undertook to ensure that the views were heard inside the department. Later in the evening, around 40 Parliamentarians joined the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group for a reception to celebrate beers of the UK.
While the debate was taking place, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) called on the Chancellor to support the beer and pub sector with its Budget submission. This highlights the important economic contribution of the beer and pub sector, with 900,000 people relying on the industry for work. Nationally, the sector adds nearly £23 billion to the economy, paying £13bn in taxes.
The submission also highlighted the unfairness of the current excise duty regime. UK beer drinkers pay 54p in beer duty on every pint (5% ABV) — 11 times higher than beer duty in Germany and Spain. Beer drinkers have put £250m more into the Treasury coffers following two beer duty freezes. Ahead of the upcoming Budget, the BBPA is calling for a cut in beer duty and wholesale reform of business rates.
‘It was great to hear so much cross-party support for beer and pubs from MPs’
In the debate, Mike Wood, Conservative MP for Dudley South, said: “Beer duty remains much too high. It is much higher than in any other major beer-producing country in Europe. In fact, someone who bought a pint in each of the five other major beer-producing countries — Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, and Poland — would still have paid less duty on those five pints than they would on a single pint in Britain.”
Marie Rimmer, Labour MP for St Helens South and Whiston, added: “I also call on the government to implement a modest cut in beer duty so that we can help our local pubs.”
Sarah Atherton, Conservative MP for Wrexham, said: “A few years ago, I owned and ran a microbrewery, so I know some of the difficulties facing breweries, including the fledgling Magic Dragon brewery, in Wrexham. I urge the Minister to support the cut in beer duty.”
Commenting on the debate, Andy Tighe, policy director at the BBPA, said: “It was great to hear so much cross-party support for beer and pubs from MPs in Parliament yesterday. The Long Live the Local campaign has achieved widespread recognition that the sector remains overtaxed, and that further tax rises in the Budget are unsustainable.
“We now need the government to turn this goodwill into further action, with a cut in beer duty, and to announce a review of business rates in the Budget on March 11.”