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Chancellor betrays Britain's struggling pubs, says BBPA

22/04/09


“Today’s Budget signs the death warrant for thousands of Britain’s pubs and for tens of thousands of British jobs.


“Pubs play a vital role in the economy and in local communities. Yet six are closing every day and more than 2,000 have gone in the last 12 months alone. The Chancellor’s unfair and unjustified announcement today condemns thousands more to shut for good.


“In imposing these additional beer taxes, the Government has wilfully ignored the views of the public, landlords, consumer groups, industry representatives and MPs from all parties who have been calling for action to save the British pub.


“At a time when the rest of the economy is getting a supporting hand, the beer and pub industry is being singled out for punitive action. Last year the Chancellor raised beer tax by an eye-watering 18 per cent. Today's rise is a further body blow. The result will be more pubs closing, more jobs being lost and more people consuming alcohol outside supervised, licensed premises.


“Our campaign with CAMRA to save pubs as a vital part of British life now becomes a matter of the highest priority. It has widespread public support, cross-party political support plus the support of trade unions such as Unite. The only person who doesn’t seem to be listening is the Chancellor. We will be mobilising public, consumer, and industry support to force the Government to scrap the duty escalator as part of a co-ordinated plan to save the Great British pub.”


Notes to editors:

• The British Beer and Pub Association is the UK’s leading organisation representing the brewing and pub sector. Its members account for 98% of the beer brewed in the UK and own nearly two thirds of Britain’s 56,000 pubs.


• The campaign to freeze beer duty has widespread public and political support. Seventy per cent of the British people are opposed to an increase in beer tax, and 59 per cent of MPs also oppose any increase, including 41 per cent of Labour MPs. More than 200 MPs have signed a Commons motion (EDM 10) opposing further tax increases on beer, including 97 Labour MPs.


• Since the last Budget in March 2008, more than 2,200 pubs have closed and over 20,000 jobs have been lost.


• Total beer sales, including all lagers, dropped by 8.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2008, compared to the same quarter in 2007, according to the BBPA’s UK Quarterly Beer Barometer, the highest fourth quarter fall since records began in 1997. Beer sales in pubs, bars and restaurants were 9.9 per cent down on the same quarter in 2007.


• BBPA research published last week shows that the Treasury is facing a black hole of £242 million in lost tax revenue due to pub closures since the last Budget, A typical pub pays an annual tax bill of £107,000 a year – 30 per cent of turnover.