THE Chancellor George Osborne has attended a beer summit with leading members of Burton’s brewing and pub industry.
Mr Osborne spoke to senior executives and Burton MP Andrew Griffiths at Marston’s Shobnall Road brewery yesterday afternoon.
The Chancellor’s visit came on the back of his decision last month to cut beer duty by 1p in his Budget. He also abolished the annual rises in beer tax.
Big hitters at the meeting included Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay, Punch Taverns chairman Stephen Billingham, Spirit Pub Company chief executive Mike Tye and Society of Independent Brewers chairman Keith Bott.
Speaking about his beer duty reforms announced last month, Mr Osborne said: “It (the beer duty escalator, which drove up tax by inflation-busting levels each year between 2008 and 2012) was having an impact on jobs and pub closures and that is not what we want the tax system to be doing.”
The Chancellor said a pint of Marston’s was his favourite kind of beer, and added: “I came here a few years ago and it is fantastic to see the investment and the jobs created. This is a great British industry.”
Mr Osborne said the Treasury wanted to support young people and agricultural workers whose livelihoods depended on pubs and breweries. He also hinted that last month’s deer duty reforms would not be the only good economic news for brewers: “It was an important step but not the last word.”
The beer duty escalator saw tax on the pint rise by 42 per cent over four years. The industry estimates 5,000 jobs will be saved within 12 months now it has been abolished.
The Chancellor was also asked whether he would consider cutting VAT as a further move to help pubs.
He said: “I think we got the balance right in the Budget.
“By focusing our help on the beer industry, we were able to get the most bang for our buck.”