Former pubs minister John Healey urges chancellor to back British beer

23 March 2012
Former pubs minister John Healey urges chancellor to back British beer

Former pubs minister John Healey has urged the chancellor to "back British beer".

Healey has written to George Osborne, telling him: "Having been minister for HM Customs & Excise and responsible for excise duties for the five years I spent in the Treasury, I am concerned that we are now overlooking and undervaluing a great British asset.

"You have announced your decision to stick with the alcohol duty escalator of RPI +2%. Looking at the data, there is now an increasing risk of diminishing returns and increasing smuggling and fraud. In recent years a 52% rise in beer duty has produced a 10% increase in duty revenue and almost a 25% fall in sales.

"Unlike wine, which is 99% imported and largely drunk at home, 85% of the beer drunk in Britain is made in Britain; and it is often consumed in pubs. Industry figures show the economic value of this to the UK, with one million jobs linked directly to brewing and pubs.

"Beer is a great example of British enterprise with more than 800 breweries countrywide, many of which are small, independent growing companies like the Wentworth brewery in my own constituency."

Mike Benner, Camra's chief executive, said: "It is a sign of the chancellor's careless approach to beer and pubs that he neglected to mention in his Budget speech that he was increasing beer duty by an inflation busting 5%.

"This hidden increase will cause the loss of many valued pubs, cost jobs and hit ordinary pub-goers in the pocket. The taxman is now swallowing a third of every pub pint in tax.

"Enough is enough, which is why Camra, like John Healey MP, is determined to secure a fairer tax deal for beer, which is crucial to the future of the nation's pubs.

"Camra is urging all those who care about beer and pubs to sign an e-petition calling for an end to above-inflation increases in beer duty at"

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By Neil Gerrard

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