Beer should be taxed at a lower rate of duty because it is a low-strength, UK-produced drink, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
The proposal is part of the BBPA's submission to the Treasury in advance of the March Budget. It is also being sent to the Government's new working party on pubs, headed by recently-appointed Pubs Minister John Healey.
As a first step, the association said that Chancellor Alistair Darling should freeze tax on beer. Duty rates on beer have increased by 20% since March 2008, costing the industry £600m, the BBPA claimed. It added that beer duty has increased by 14% in real terms since 1997, while duty on spirits has fallen by 20%.
The BBPA argued that dropping duty would help Britain's pubs and brewers, with 400,000 jobs depending directly on the production and sale of beer.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA said:
"It's time for the Chancellor to recognise the social, community and economic value of a low strength drink like beer and social drinking in pubs. The appointment of John Healey as Minister for Pubs is a welcome sign that the Government is listening to public concerns about beer tax and pub closures.
"By treating beer differently in duty rates we can support a home grown industry and safeguard thousands of jobs."
Rate of pub closures slows down, says BBPA >>
By Neil Gerrard
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