Pub trade in plea to freeze duty

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The Government was yesterday accused of damaging the brewing industry after new figures showed another fall in beer sales in pubs and supermarkets.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) blamed taxes for the 5.6 per cent reduction in the past three months, and said there was now an urgent need to freeze the beer duty escalator.

Around 117m fewer pints were drunk in the quarter to September compared with the same period a year ago, despite the benefits of the Olympics and Euro 2012 football championship, said the association, which warned that the reduction in sales was hitting Government revenues as well as jobs.

Beer prices have been affected by an “astonishing” 42 per cent tax hike since the two per cent-above inflation escalator was
introduced in 2008, said the report.

MPs yesterday called for a full Parliamentary debate on the impact of beer taxes, following a petition signed by over 100,000 people which demanded Government action on the issue.

Sales of beer in pubs fell by 4.8 per cent in the latest quarter, with 51m fewer pints poured for pubgoers than in the same period in 2011, while supermarkets and off-license sales were down by 6.5 per cent.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “If the Government wants to encourage growth, back British business and support local communities, then it must end the beer duty escalator.

“The Chancellor must listen to the thousands of people now calling for a change, so the sector can grow, create jobs and contribute more to UK plc.”

The Government’s controversial beer tax “escalator” policy means increases of two per cent above inflation until 2014/15.