The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has apologised for the wording of a memo issued to branch committees on the proposed changes to small brewers’ relief (SBR).


The memo stated how CAMRA was developing a response to the proposals to lower the threshold of SBR from 5,000hl per year to 2,100.

It said: “While we do not wish to stifle debate about this important issue, and recognise that individual members may wish to express their personal opinions on this subject, we would urge CAMRA branches not to be drawn into publicly supporting lobbying actions in response to the government announcement at this stage.

“It would also be inappropriate and unacceptable for individual members to criticise publicly, or call for boycotts of, particular breweries or individuals that express strong opinionson the subject. Thank you for your co-operation.”

This morning, national director Gillian Hough said that “while the intention and content of the memo was correct, the tone and wording of the last two paragraphs was wrong — for which I’d like to apologise.”

In CAMRA’s Discourse forum, she said: “CAMRA is made up of all our members and I made a mistake which left some members feeling upset. While CAMRA branches should not make any official statements, on official channels, on this issue until our policy is confirmed, it was never the intention that the memo would seek to restrict individual members from making their views known.

“For clarity, for several years, CAMRA has held a neutral position on SBR, believing the industry should reach a consensus on the upper and lower levels and the shape of the ‘curve’ between the two points. While we understand the difficulties SBR can cause for breweries at the top of the curve, we have expressed concern that changes to the bottom level could potentially impact on smaller breweries.

“Reviewing our position in light of recent developments is the correct thing to do. In reviewing our position, we are not accepting the government proposals, or any of the different industry positions on SBR.”

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