Beer producers have hit out at today's Budget after Chancellor George Osborne ignored calls for a freeze on the beer duty escalator.
That means a scheduled rise in beer duty of 2% above inflation will go ahead.
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) warned that the rise threatened pubs and was "ruinous" to the nation's local brewing sector.
Meanwhile the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said the announcement meant that 10p would be added to the average pint in the pub, and that beer duty and VAT on beer now accounts for over £1 per pint.
Mike Benner, CAMRA chief executive, said: "It is incredible to consider that Britain's beer drinkers are forced to endure the second highest rate of beer tax in Europe, particularly when the Prime Minister promised a "pub-friendly Government" with the pub at the heart of the Big Society. By penalising the vast majority of responsible pub goers, the Government is not getting to the root of the problem, which remains cheap alcohol sold in an irresponsible manner in the off trade."
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the decision was a "hammer blow" to the pub industry and would cost tens of thousands of jobs.
But BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds did congratulate the Government on halving duty for beers below 2.8%. "It will act as a spur to innovation in what is a vital UK industry, and over time should help nudge consumers towards lower-strength drinks. The next step is to move towards a zero rate and, as importantly, for the Government to support a change in European law to increase the 2.8% abv threshold to which reduced rates can be applied," she said.
By Neil Gerrard
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