Trade body the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), has insisted it is the "wrong time" to increase beer duties ahead of an assumed rise in alcohol taxes in today's Budget.
Alistair Darling's first Budget is widely expected to cave into pressure from health bodies and raise taxes on beers, wines and spirits.
Chief executive Nick Bish said: "Quite simply, it's the wrong time to increase the taxes paid by Britain's pubs.
"The sector has already been hit hard by rising costs - covering everything from energy to employment. Many pubs are also drowning, not waving, when it comes to red tape - from Whitehall and town-halls alike. No wonder that ‘closing time' has taken on a whole new meaning for so many pubs over the past year."
• A rise in beer tax could lead to an increase in drink related anti-social behaviour, the boss of night-time economy trade body Noctis, Paul Smith, has said. Smith said a punitive rise in duty would force pubs and clubs to raise prices while supermarkets would likely swallow the hike. Smith fears increasing the differential between the on and off trade will see punters turn their back on licensed premises, potentially fuelling anti-social behaviour.
By Christopher Walton
E-mail your comments to Christopher Walton here.