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Griffiths wins in debate on beer duty escalator


Friday 2nd November 2012 (Andrew Griffiths)
Griffiths wins in debate on beer duty escalator

THE campaign to axe a ‘crippling’ tax on Burton’s breweries and pubs was today a step closer to success after 100 MPs joined the fight.

They demanded an urgent review of the beer duty escalator, which adds 10p in tax to the cost of a pint of beer every year.

MPs from all three main parties backed a House of Commons motion calling on Chancellor George Osborne to reconsider the escalator before his 2013 Budget.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths described the tax as ‘completely unsustainable’ and said 5,000 jobs would be saved within a year if it was axed.

Beer duty has rocketed by 42 per cent since 2008 but sales have fallen by nearly a fifth in that period and nearly 6,000 pubs have closed.

GRIFFITHS WINS IN DEBATE ON BEER DUTY ESCALATOR

ONE hundred MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of scrapping the beer duty escalator in a bid to save thousands of jobs in the brewing and pub industry.

A House of Commons debate, opened by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, called on the Treasury to carry out an urgent review of beer tax policies.

Mr Griffiths told Parliament: “The reality is since the introduction of the beer duty escalator (in 2008), beer duty has increased by a crippling 42 per cent.”

Treasury minister Sajid Javid, however, said the Government stood to lose £105 million over the next two years if the beer duty escalator was abolished.

This, he said, would have to be recouped through spending cuts or tax hikes elsewhere.

Alcohol duty currently increases by two per cent plus the rate of inflation every year.

Mr Griffiths said: “The point about an escalator is you stop when you get to the top. We have now reached the top and we are in danger of going off the edge of a cliff.”

The Tory, who chairs the parliamentary beer group, described the beer duty escalator as ‘completely unsustainable’.

“It is hitting the brewing industry and costing jobs,” he said. “What we are seeing is a reduction in the brewing industry and that’s because it is being treated unfairly.”

South Derbyshire MP Heather Wheeler said in the debate: “What we are asking the Treasury to do is bring the price down.”

Beer duty last year contributed £3.4 billion to the Exchequer, compared to just £330 million levied on cider.

“Many breweries are paying more than 50 per cent of their turnover in tax and duty,” Mr Griffiths told MPs. “It is simply unsustainable. We believe a fair tax system would help drive growth.

“Scrapping the beer duty escalator would save 5,000 jobs in the first year alone and stop the closure of hundreds of pubs in our communities.”

Cathy Jamieson, Labour’s shadow treasury minister, said her party would not oppose the motion, tabled by Mr Griffiths and Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland, calling for a review of the escalator before Chancellor George Osborne delivers his 2013 Budget.

Not a single MP opposed the motion when it was put to a vote. Around 100 were in attendance at the end of the debate to cast their votes.

Closing the session, Mr Griffiths said: “We will not let it rest. What’s at stake is not just a business, it’s the future of a central part of our communities.”

Cathy Jamieson, Labour’s shadow treasury minister, said her party would not oppose the motion, tabled by Mr Griffiths and Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland, calling for a review of the escalator before Chancellor George Osborne delivers his 2013 Budget.

Not a single MP opposed the motion when it was put to a vote. Around 100 were in attendance at the end of the debate to cast their votes.

Closing the session, Mr Griffiths said: “We will not let it rest. What’s at stake is not just a business, it’s the future of a central part of our communities.”

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