The economic secretary stopped short of calling for a comprehensive review of the Beer Duty Escalator (BDE) today despite cross party support and more than 20 MPs from all parts of the country calling for it to be scrapped.
The move followed a cross party debate in response to an e-petition which gathered over 100,000 signatures calling for the review. While Salid Javid recognised the points made, he disappointed Andrew Griffiths, one of the sponsors of the bill, who said: “We will not let it rest there. This is not just a business or brewery at stake, it’s a central part of our community and we will continue to do what we can to save our pub and brewing industry.”
During the debate he pointed out that since the introduction of the escalator in 2008, beer duty has increased by 42% – which he slammed as “crippling and not sustainable”.
Co-sponsor Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West also pinpointed the supermarket’s selling of beer at low or loss leading prices, as “irresponsible”. He added that the duty has seen beer become 10 times more expensive than in supermarkets and since 2004 – the beer duty rates had increased by 60%, while revenue from it had only increased by 10% – representing a fall in real terms.
He called for BDE – which he slammed as “silly tax” and “a nonsense” to go. He added the policy’s repercussions, was not only destroying the livelihoods of pubs, but also pushing people away from drinking in a social and sensitive way within the community to pre-loading or drinking at home.
He also called for the government to consider other measures to help the pub and brewing industry such as cutting business rate relief for community pubs, or standardising the duty free element of cask ales and to protect pubs through changes to planning laws that would prevent supermarkets from taking over pub sites with no license changes being required.
Several other MPs also pointed out the social hub that pubs provide for communities, up and down the country, while others noted the huge employment benefits the industry brought – especially the knock on effects throughout other industries.
By Emily Manson
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