Doubles all round for campaign against tax rise

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OVER a thousand real ale enthusiasts are expected at a mass parliamentary lobby in December, after 100,000 people signed a petition calling for end to soaring taxes on beer.

The “beer duty escalator” has seen an increase in tax on beer of 40 per cent since 2008.

More than a third of every pub pint now is swallowed up in tax, and more than 4,500 pubs have closed in the past four years, according to the Campaign for Real Ale. The latest figures suggest more than one pub is closing every week in Yorkshire.

CAMRA said they were delighted their efforts had paid off - saying it was only the 12th Government e-petition out of over 16,000 submitted to have ever reached the 100,000-landmark.

The group says the escalator, introduced by the Labour Government in 2008, and continued by the coalition, has “successively penalised” beer drinkers by automatically increasing duty levels by two per cent above inflation every year.

More than 15,000 drinkers added their names to the petition during the Great British Beer Festival, held at Olympia in London in August.

With a Parliamentary debate now in prospect, CAMRA is holding the lobby at Westminster on December 12, with over 1,000 people expected to attend from all round the UK.

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group and Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said Britons now paid 40 per cent of the entire EU beer tax bill - despite consuming only 13 per cent of the beer sold in Europe.

He said: “The Chancellor must recognise and reward ingenuity, innovation and enterprise, and there can be few industries in Britain today to compare with the brewing and pubs industries, which provide employment for over a million people, almost half of whom are aged 16 to 21, and which contribute £21 billion to UK GDP every year.”

CAMRA National Chairman Colin Valentine said it was time the Government honoured its pledge to be “pub friendly”: “Joining a very small minority of e-petitions to have ever reached the 100,000 landmark is a mammoth achievement, and it’s been fantastic to witness the beer and pub industry uniting to fight back against this issue. Over the last six months, CAMRA has been collecting signatures at beer festivals, organising local campaigning events, as well as supplying pubs with petition material. CAMRA’s next step is not to rest on our laurels but to maintain the impetus with our mass parliamentary lobby.”