Budget 2013: Brewers welcome alcohol duty escalator axe and 1p beer pint cut

Stephen Pugh, finance director of Adnams, said the Budget was welcome news for pubs that are facing

Stephen Pugh, finance director of Adnams, said the Budget was welcome news for pubs that are facing unprecedented pressure on their businesses. - Credit: Archant

BREWERS in Suffolk have welcomed the Chancellor’s Budget announcement to axe a controversial alcohol duty escalator blamed for closing pubs and cut 1p in duty on a pint of beer.

George Osborne unveiled the move yesterday in a bid to help an embattled pub industry which has seen 700 Suffolk pubs close in the last two decades.

But pub bosses were left smiling last night after the Chancellor revealed a planned 3p rise in beer duty has been scrapped and replaced by a 1p cut in the price of a pint – to take effect Sunday night.

Mr Osborne also told MPs the alcohol duty escalator – which adds inflation plus 2% to the price and was due to run until 2014-15 – would be abolished for beer completely.

Rooney Anand, CEO of Greene King, said Mr Osborne’s “bold move” will breathe new life back into the pub sector.

He said: “Greene King welcomes the Chancellor’s supportive budget for business. In particular, we applaud his timely decision to scrap the beer duty escalator, which has been so damaging to our industry.

“These measures are a real boost to the great British pub. The Government should be congratulated in this bold move, which will breathe life back into the pub sector.”

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Stephen Pugh, finance director of Adnams, said it was a small step in the right direction.

He said: “Beer duty has gone up by 42% since 2008, which has hit consumers hard.

“This move reflects a more helpful attitude to beer, and one that makes sense at this time of austerity.

“Many have been involved in the campaign to scrap the duty escalator and they can finally claim some success. This will be welcome news for the numerous pubs that are facing unprecedented pressure on their businesses.”

The brewing industry, which sees as an estimated 20 pubs shut every week in Britain, had campaigned strongly for a freeze in duty, and Mr Osborne said the industry needed support after disclosing 10,000 pubs had closed in the last 10 years.

But it comes at a cost to other alcohol duties. Wine will rise by 10p a bottle, spirits by 38p a bottle and cider by 2p a pint.

Steve Sims, owner of Mauldons Brewery in Church Field Road, Sudbury, said he would offer Mr Osborne “only half a pint” following his Budget – and warned pub owners not to expect a “quick fix” to long-term problems.

He said: “At long last they have listened to us.

“It is a great move that will protect and create jobs and may save some village pubs. But the alcohol duty escalator has caused an immense amount of damage. It won’t be a quick fix but it is a positive step in the right direction.”

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