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Beer taxes to be attacked by MPs ahead of Budget

Wednesday 27th February 2013 (Andrew Griffiths)
Beer taxes to be attacked by MPs ahead of Budget

THE ‘crippling’ and ‘unfair’ beer tax system is due to be debated again by MPs in Westminster.

The debate, which will be attended by Treasury minister Sajid Javid, will hear arguments in favour of abolishing the controversial beer duty escalator.

Currently, tax levied on beer increases by two per cent plus the rate of inflation every year. Such a rise is due to be implemented again after Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget in March.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, chairman of the parliamentary beer group, who will attend the debate in Westminster Hall next Tuesday, said: “This is all about maintaining the momentum and building pressure on the Chancellor to scrap the duty escalator.

“We all know how damaging this tax has been for Burton’s breweries and pubs and it’s essential we win this to give landlords and brewers a break.”

The escalator was introduced by Labour in 2008 and continued under the coalition. Beer duty has risen by 42 per cent since its introduction and a third of the price of a pint of beer in a pub is now estimated to be tax.

Beer sales have fallen by 16 per cent since 2008, 18 pubs are currently closing every week and the industry estimates 5,000 jobs would be saved by the escalator’s abolition — but the Treasury has previously claimed such a move would cost £105 million over the next two years in lost tax revenues.

Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones, who secured the Westminster Hall debate and will be its first speaker, said: “We are coming up to the Budget and it is an opportunity to try to do something about the beer duty escalator.

“I hope a large number of MPs will come along to send a message to the Chancellor that it’s time to get off this escalator and stop destroying our brewing and pub industries.

“The cost of living is such at the moment that many people are struggling to be able to go down to the local for a pint and, if this is not addressed now, we will risk many of our community pubs and the jobs they sustain.”

Last year 100 MPs in the House of Commons voted to review the escalator.

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