Pub boss defends industry efforts to lobby Government after beer price hike

13 March 2008 by
Pub boss defends industry efforts to lobby Government after beer price hike

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame has defended the pub industry's efforts to head off yesterday's 6% hike in alcohol duty in the Budget.

The brewer and pub operator had lobbied the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group on behalf of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) in November 2007, arguing that a tax freeze on beer would encourage drinkers back into the controlled environment of the pub.

However, as of midnight on Sunday duty on beer will rise 3% while taxes on wine will increase by 14 pence per bottle.

Spirits will rise by 55 pence per bottle and the chancellor has put alcohol taxes on a price escalator of 2% above inflation for the next four years, considered a hammer blow by may in the struggling pub sector.

Neame said: "The industry has presented a range of coherent arguments for a freeze on beer duty and made industry's financial distress abundantly clear. I would like to see the evidence upon which the chancellor has based today's announcement."

He added the tax hike was a "cheap political gesture" that did "nothing to reduce alcohol-related harm" but would result in pub closures.

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By Christopher Walton

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