The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called on the Chancellor to freeze beer duty in next week's Budget to help ease the pressures created by the forthcoming smoking ban and rapidly escalating energy and supply costs.
There are three main issues facing the pub and bar sector, according to the BBPA.
- An inevitable fall in beer sales when the smoking ban is introduced on 1 July.
- Escalating energy costs, which are driving up the direct costs of beer production and distribution
- Global barley crop failures caused by adverse weather conditions, which have led to a 50% hike in prices.
While the Treasury makes 59p in tax on every pint, the UK's four largest brewers made just 1.6p per pint profit - down 50% on the year before.
This highlights the potential impact of the Chancellor's habitual 1p duty increase and the constraint it would place on the industry's ability to invest and grow, said Rob Hayward, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association.
"To help ease the pressures on British beer and arrest its decline, we are asking the Chancellor to implement a freeze on beer duty in the Budget," he said.
"We are calling for government policy to encourage and support Britain's winning businesses. British brewers and beer are of world renown. It's time to give beer a break."
In recent years, beer has been in the front line for tax increases, while other alcoholic drinks have enjoyed more favourable tax treatment, Hayward added.
As a result, beer drinking has declined, while other drinks have enjoyed a surge in popularity, he said.
By Daniel Thomas
E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.