Pubs and brewers pleased at Budget tax help
8:00am Thursday 21st March 2013 in Latest News
THE Chancellor’s changes to beer tax have gone down like nectar with local lovers of a good pint.
George Osborne revealed in his Budget that next month’s planned 3p rise in beer duty will be scrapped, and that duty will instead be reduced by a penny.
In addition, the annual inflation-plus-two-per cent duty escalator is to be scrapped for beer.
The news was greeted with delight by Hans Hoffbauer, who chairs the Swindon branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.
“I think it’s very good news,” he said.
“It seems that CAMRA have won the argument that there is too much tax on beer and it drives people away from pubs.
“A penny doesn’t seem a lot but it’s a step in the right direction.
“I can see that if the Chancellor reduced beer tax by a lot he would have to find money from somewhere else, so we would not expect a huge reduction, but at least he acknowledged that something had to be done.”
Swindon brewery Arkells also welcomed the cut. Director George Arkell said: “I’m absolutely delighted.
“The Independent Family Brewers of Britain have campaigned long and hard for this alongside other beer organisations such as the Society of Independent Brewers and CAMRA.”
Unfortunately for people in the pub trade, the Budget news wasn’t all good.
The duty escalator may no longer apply to beer, but it is still firmly in place for ciders, wines and spirits.
Mr Arkell said the concessions on beer were a good start, but added: “There’s more work to do.”
Landlord Peter Richardson of the Rat Trap in Stratton St Margaret was less enthusiastic.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
“They still need to do more for the working class.
“We’ve only just in February had a price increase from our suppliers.”
In addition to paying more for beer, Mr Richardson said the price of English meat, another of his expenses, had gone through the roof in light of the recent crisis, although he insisted he would avoid passing on the increases to his customers for as long as possible.
James Gray, the Conservative North Wiltshire MP, said: “I strongly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement to not only scrap Labour’s planned rise in beer duty, but to turn it on its head by instead cutting it by a penny.
“Beer will now be 1p per pint cheaper after Sunday night, and 4p cheaper than it would have been under Labour.
“The previous Government increased beer duty by 60 per cent and left our pubs fighting for survival.
“Today’s announcement will therefore be great news for beer drinkers, breweries, and the 5,398 excellent pubs which proudly call the south west home.”