Suffolk: Brewing giant Adnams joins call for MPs’ support over beer tax

BREWERS in Suffolk have warned MPs of the potentially huge damage that could be done to the beer and pub trade by an increasing tax burden.

Southwold brewer Adnams has voiced it concern ahead of a key debate on the issue in Parliament next week. It warns the industry is vital to the region’s economy - employing around 46,500 people, with nearly half of those under 25.

The debate will call on the Government to review its controversial ‘beer tax escalator’ policy, which has seen the duty on beer rise by 42% since it was introduced in March 2008.

Brewers say the “burden” is having a significant impact on the industry - one of the biggest employers in Suffolk - and is leading to pub closures and job losses.

The average price of a pub pint of beer in the UK is �3.17, with the duty on a 5% proof pint of beer currently around 55p. British beer tax is nine times higher than that of France and 13 times higher than it is in Germany.

Stephen Pugh, finance director of Adnams, said: “Duty and VAT on beer cost the typical pub around �66,000 per year. We have seen huge increases in our tax burden, and any further rises are just not sustainable. We want to be creating more local jobs and wealth in Suffolk and Norfolk, which is certainly possible without huge tax hikes, every year.

“I hope MPs in Suffolk will listen to these concerns, attend this important debate and support our regional brewing and pub trade by voting for a review of the beer duty escalator.”

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Steve Sims, owner of Mauldons Brewery in Church Field Road, Sudbury, wants his local MP, South Suffolk’s Tim Yeo, to speak on behalf of the county’s brewing companies during the parliamentary discussion, which is scheduled for next Thursday.

A petition signed by more than 100,000 people has been the catalyst for action, after a national campaign backed by the Society of Independent Brewers, CAMRA and a number of other industry bodies.

Mr Sims said: “Our company employs 12 people directly in Sudbury, as well as supporting other businesses locally through the goods and services that we buy.

“However, we are dependent on a thriving pub industry in order to sell our beers and any further pub closures will hurt us, as well as being a huge social loss to the local community.

“Tax is now on average over a pound a pint in the pub and further rises are just not sustainable.”

He added: “I hope Mr Yeo will heed local concerns, attend this important debate and support our local pub trade by voting for a review of the beer duty escalator.”

Mr Yeo was unavailable for comment yesterday.