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UK government urged to cut beer tax to save pubs

Abigail Fenton
·3 min read
A tax cut on beer could bring £26.6m more in revenue for pubs, according to a study. Photo: Anders Nord/Unsplash
A tax cut on beer could bring £26.6m more in revenue for pubs, according to a study. Photo: Anders Nord/Unsplash

The UK government is under pressure to cut tax on draught beer to “help pubs thrive” once COVID-19 restrictions end.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is calling for the March budget to lower the rate of duty on beer served on tap, in order to help pubs and restaurants compete with supermarket booze.

Reducing the tax on beer depending on how it is served is an option the government can take to support the industry now the UK has left the European Union.

CAMRA research suggests that even a “modest reduction” in beer tax could result in £26.6m ($36.4m) of additional expenditure on draught beer in public venues.

This would help many to rebuild their businesses, as well as “bringing alcohol consumption back to social settings – creating jobs and boosting the economy in the process”, the consumer body said.

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This is just one of many measures CAMRA is urging the government to take to help pubs and restaurants in 2021.

The organisation has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask him to consider a package of measures ahead of the March budget. These include:

  • Ongoing, regular grant payments to help pubs and social clubs cover costs when they are forced to close or operate at a reduced capacity.

  • Continuing the furlough scheme as long as pubs and clubs are subject to trading restrictions.

  • Making sure that brewers and cider producers are eligible for support schemes.

  • Announcing another business rates holiday for 2021/22.

  • Extending the VAT reduction to beer to support wet-led pubs.

Nearly three quarters of pubs across Britain expect to go under this year as a result of impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile, thousands of pubs are still awaiting the one-off £1,000 support payment promised to them by prime minister Boris Johnson at the end of 2021.

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Nik Antona, national chairman of CAMRA said: “The next budget is an ideal time for the government to announce some much-needed long-term financial support to help the beer and pubs industry recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

“As well as ongoing support while restrictions on trading remain, we would like to see a long-term change to the way beer is taxed to reduce the price of a pint specifically for pub-goers.

“This move would help pubs rebuild their businesses, compete with cheap supermarket booze and secure their future at the heart of our communities.”

He added: "It would also encourage responsible drinking in the supervised setting of community pubs – with all the social and mental health benefits that come with it.

"We hope that the chancellor will listen to our campaign and commit to reducing tax on the pint in the pub, helping our locals at a time when they need it most.”

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