BURTON’S MP has demanded the Chancellor suspends hefty Budget beer tax rises which campaigners claim could add as much as 10p to a pub pint.
Andrew Griffiths called on George Osborne to halt the annual beer duty escalator, which hikes tax on ale by inflation plus two per cent, ‘to help reduce pub closures, create 5,000 additional jobs and ensure pub-going remains an affordable leisure activity’.
“Beer is a great British product but its being disadvantaged compared to it’s competitors because of the duty system,” he told the Mail.
“Putting even more tax on a pint of beer will only make it even less affordable.”
The Conservative, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, made his demand in a House of Commons motion which has already been signed by MPs from the three main parties, including Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland, chairman of the All Party Save the Pub Group.
Mr Griffiths’ call has also been supported by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which commissioned a report which last week revealed that 300,000 16 to 24-year-olds depended on the sector for work.
The groups claim pubs could be ‘an engine for growth’ and create jobs for young people — provided the Government ‘calls time on job-destroying beer tax rises’.
They argue the tax hikes are set to reach 42 per cent since the March 2008 Budget, which saw the escalator introduced by the previous Labour government.
BBPA, CAMRA and SIBA say this year’s increase, due to be announced by Mr Osborne in his Budget on March 29, could be more than five per cent.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “I hope MPs will support this motion as there is real concern about the impact of huge tax rises on beer and pubs.
“If we get a tax freeze in the Budget we could create and protect 16,000 jobs in the next three years alone.”
CAMRA chief executive Mike Benner said ‘punitive’ levels of beer tax harmed valued community pubs.
He said: “A freeze in duty would help protect the future of pubs and ensure pub-going remains an affordable social activity for all.”
SIBA chief executive Julian Grocock said campaigners wanted re-investment in British beer and pubs so they could recover their vital role in communities’ social lives.
Supporters of CAMRA’s anti-beer tax campaign can contact their MPs at http://bitly.com/EDM2785