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.
By Christopher Walton
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