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Breweries can spearhead recovery from recession


Tuesday 15th March 2011 (Andrew Griffiths)

BURTON’S brewing industry could spearhead Britain’s recovery from recession — but only if beer is taxed more ‘sympathetically’, ale chiefs have claimed.

Leaders of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) hammered home their case following a quarterly meeting of their Midlands executive committee at Marston’s in Shobnall Road.

They spoke amid grave concerns as their industry continues to haemorrhage 30 pubs and 300 jobs a week amid fierce competition from supermarkets — and may be about to lose another 10,000 staff in the next year alone.

But the BBPA bosses said Chancellor George Osborne could breathe new life into the sector if he freezes beer tax and dumps the duty escalator — which requires rises of two per cent above inflation per year — when he delivers his second budget a week today.

They were also quick to point out that Burton, named at the weekend as the second largest constituency in the country for employment and revenue in the brewing industry, could take advantage if the Tory Treasury chief changed tack.

“Out of every other recession we’ve had, it has been hospitality that has come out first,” said BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds.

“If the Government could help us stimulate employment we could be at the forefront of creating jobs and pulling the country out of recession.”

She said the Treasury would get ‘some benefit’ from ditching the escalator because it would recoup more in corporation tax and national insurance.

Keith Bott, chairman of BBPA West Midlands, said: “If you invest in a sector you get a payback in terms of jobs and employment — uplifting an industry that will bring us out of recession.”

Tadcaster MP and former chairman of the All Parliamentary Beer Group, John Grogan, who both attended the meeting, backed the BBPA line.

“I’ve got no doubt that we can play the major part in helping to spread the prosperity and economic growth that can come as a result of a healthy beer and pub industry.” Mr Griffiths said.

“Of course, there are many factors involved — but we should not underestimate the huge effect Government policy has on whether or not pubs and breweries stay open.”

Mr Grogan said breweries were a ‘proud part’ of Burton’s heritage, adding: “If that’s going to survive over the long term it’s important there’s a sympathetic tax regime.”

The calls came only two days after the Mail revealed a BBPA report showing the beer and pub sector in Burton supported 4,529 jobs, paid £76.3 million yearly in wages and added £146 million per year to the town’s economy.

“I’ve got no doubt that we can play the major part in helping to spread the prosperity and economic growth that can come as a result of a healthy beer and pub industry.”

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