News in today's Budget statement that the government is freezing duty on wines, beers, spirits and lower-strength ciders has given hospitality organisations cause for celebration.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said in Parliament today that the government would legislate to increase duty on high strength alcohols including some white ciders but that in support of the UK's pub industry, duty on other alcohol types such as wine, beer, some ciders and spirits would be frozen.
The news elicited a warm welcome from pub firms and industry bodies.
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Kent-based brewer and pub firm Shepherd Neame, said: "Today's Budget will be welcomed by the leisure industry. The freeze on alcohol duties has been long awaited following a barrage of unprecedented economic headwinds from Brexit to inflation. The increase in duty this spring saw 35 million fewer pints sold year-on-year, demonstrating the direct effects of government intervention on one of the most over taxed industries in the UK. More support for the sector is required. Businesses like Shepherd Neame must be encouraged to further invest in new pubs, hotels especially in this time of uncertainty as we navigate our way through Brexit."
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), which represents over 90% of the managed pubs in the UK, said: "At a time of rising costs, a freeze in the beer duty and a continuation of support for pubs on business rates is very welcome.
"The ALMR has been pushing for a duty freeze across all alcohol types, and this positive action will help tackle rising costs, saving the sector around £116m, as well as underpinning consumer confidence."
Meanwhile, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) said its 50 brewing members would be "delighted" with the announcement.
But chief executive Mike Benner added: "We'd now like to see the chancellor go further and commit to a freeze in beer duty across the entire Parliament. An extension by one more year of rate relief for pubs and a move to CPI from RPI is also welcome but more action is still required. Whilst news for our sector has been positive from the chancellor, brewers and pubs still face a tough trading period ahead with uncertainty around Brexit, and worsening growth and productivity figures. For now, though we will raise a glass of craft brewed British beer to the chancellor."
Bruce Ray, vice-president corporate affairs, for Northampton-based Carlsberg UK, said: "Today's announcement today about a freeze in beer duty will be welcomed by brewers, publicans and everyone who enjoys a glass of beer in the pub. This year's cut will support continued innovation and investment, create new jobs, attract tourists and ultimately benefit our beer-loving nation. This is a wonderful achievement secured through cross-industry work, and we are pleased that government has recognised that a thriving and prosperous beer and pub industry is what our nation needs."
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