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MPs urged to scrap beer tax increases
BREWERIES, pub landlords and beer drinkers in Oxfordshire are today urging MPs to scrap tax hikes on beer.
Peter Fowler, landlord at The Shoulder of Mutton pub in Wantage, says the increase in tax is killing the pub industry, with higher prices of beer deterring drinkers and profit margins decreasing.
The tax on beer has risen by more than 40 per cent since the beer tax escalator was introduced in 2008, according to Camra.
In August the Oxford Mail revealed that 50 Pubs in Oxfordshire had closed since 2007 – with campaigners blaming beer tax hikes and supermarkets for selling alcohol more cheaply.
Mr Fowler, 60, said: “What it will do is kill the pub trade completely if it carries on.
“The impact is all the job losses, it is not doing the industry or the country any good.
“More and more people are staying away and coming out once a week rather than twice a week.
“We are not doing the country any good by getting rid of pubs which are our heritage.
“Pubs close far too frequently – normally because of tax.”
Andy Wilson, managing director of the White Horse Brewery in Stanford in the Vale, said that if the Government abandons plans for further increases, jobs and pubs could be boosted in the area.
Mr Wilson said: “Our company employs 25 people directly, 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 on average over a pound a pint in the pub and further rises are just not sustainable.”
He added: “I hope Ed Vaizey (Wantage MP) will heed local concerns, attend this important debate and support our local pub trade by voting for a review of the beer duty escalator.”
The duty escalator – which raises beer tax annually by inflation plus two per cent – is being debated in Parliament after an e-petition calling for it to be scrapped attracted more than 100,000 signatures.
It is due to run until at least 2014.
Members of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said that the country’s pub closure rate has increased to 18 a week, with more than 450 pubs having closed since March.
Since the duty escalator was introduced, Camra said more than 5,800 pubs had closed and beer sales had fallen.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said UK beer sales had fallen by 5.6 per cent from July to September. Neil Crooks, chairman of the White House Camra branch, said: “Most pubs are struggling due to the tax. The landlords are being squeezed – there are points where people cannot carry on any longer.”
Mr Vaizey said: “My colleagues and I recognise the vital role pubs play in community life and job creation which is why we will not go further than the last Government’s pre-announced duty increases at the Budget.
“This Government has been praised by Camra and BBPA for their support of British pubs and they will soon be setting a new minimum unit price to prevent shops from selling alcohol for so much less than in the pub.”
Average pint prices
2007 – Real ale – £2.34, Lager – £2.57
2012 – Real ale – £2.91, Lager – £3.09
Information from Camra