The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has described the Government's decision to hike beer tax as a "kick in the teeth" and attacked its U-turn on spirits taxation.
At the launch of its Axe the Beer Tax campaign today at the Westminster Arms in London, the BBPA warned that sales of beer in pubs are now at their lowest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s and 36 pubs are closing every week.
The trade body said the situation for pubs is being made worse by the impact of the wider economic slowdown and the Chancellor's announcement of yet another increase in duty this week of 8%, which will negate the cut in VAT from 17.5% to 15% for publicans.
This comes on top of plans to increase the tax on beer above inflation next year and for the next three years, which with tax already making up a third of the price of a pint of beer will, according to the BBPA, only accelerate the decline of the pub.
Speaking about yesterday's decision by Government to half the duty increase on spirits from 8% to 4%, Rob Hayward, chief executive of the BBPA, said:
"The decision to raise tax rates on alcohol was disappointing, but we are surprised to now find out that a last minute deal on spirits singled them out for special tax cutting treatment.
"As a major employer and considering the pressures on the pub, we believe we also deserve a fair crack of the whip. If the Government is now changing the rules for spirits, it must change the rules for beer."
The Axe the Beer Tax campaign is also being supported by consumer group CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).
By Chris Druce
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