AS George Osborne took to the dispatch box to give his last budget before the General Election, the brewing industry held its breath.
Pub companies, landlords and breweries were hoping for an historic third annual cut in beer duty, which would help boost business and improve the outlook for them all.
And as the Chancellor announced yet another 1p reduction in the tax, they were not disappointed.
Richard Westwood, Marston’s managing director, said: “This is great news for the industry which employs nearly a million people across the UK.
“This third consecutive reduction in beer duty, which we have constantly called on the Government to act upon, enables businesses to continue investment as we have demonstrated with our £7 million state-of-the-art bottling line in Burton, opened just over a year ago.
“This further reduction means more long-term planning, more jobs and better prospects for the sector.”
Frederic Landtmeters, managing director for Molson Coors said the move was ‘warmly welcomed’ by staff at the firm’s Burton base.
He said: “The successive duty cuts have not only given a much-needed boost to beer drinkers across the UK, but have helped the wider industry benefit from extra investments – including more than 16,000 new jobs created within the sector.”
Figures suggest the move has also helped a lot of pubs to remain open.
A two pence reduction in cider duty was also announced, along with a penny reduction for the duty on spirits.
In the Budget, delivered yesterday afternoon, Mr Osborne paid tribute to Burton MP Andrew Griffiths for his work campaigning for the cut.
Mr Griffiths told the Mail: “I think this is absolutely fantastic news and really important for all the people in Burton who are employed in brewing and pubs.
“This historic third duty cut will help to secure important companies like Marston’s and Molson Coors and help micro-breweries such as Tower and Burton Bridge.
“We all value the community pub, and bringing down prices will encourage more people to drink responsibly in our pubs.”
The British Beer and Pub Association called Mr Osborne a ‘hat-trick hero’. Chief executive Brigid Simmons said: “Cutting beer duty supports a British industry which contributes £22 billion to gross domestic product and supports almost 900,000 jobs.”