A government-led review of alcohol taxation begun last Autumn.
According to a report in The Times, the Prime Minister described as “extremely good” a recent proposal from Conservative MP Giles Watling during Prime Minister’s Questions that the government would consider reforming beer duty in favour of pubs to prevent them from being undercut by cheap alcohol sold in supermarkets.
“Pubs have been closing all over Britain for decades now, tearing the hearts out of communities,” said Giles Watling, ” This terrible pandemic has made things even worse. Part of the problem is undercutting by cheap supermarket booze.
“Surely, now that we’re out of the EU we can do as we please with beer duty. Differentiation in favour of on-trade sales could deliver great benefits to pubs at nil cost to the taxpayer,” he continued.
The Times reports that the Prime Minister responded, “There’s just such a review being carried out after consulting pub owners, brewers and others and I know that the Chancellor is looking very closely at the findings.”
Giles Watling’s proposal echoes the thoughts of some 70 Conservative MPs who wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to cut beer duty in the tomorrow’s Budget. Duty on beer has risen by about 60% over the past 17 years.
MP Richard Holden, who organised the letter, said that the best way to help pubs build back after this crisis “is to get people back into pubs and the best encouragement for publicans and the public is to see real action on beer duty”.
Pubs there pay £3.6 billion in beer duty a year.
Earlier, a Long Live The Local campaign gathered over 500,000 signatures to a petition which called for slashes to beer duty.
275,000 people have written to their MP on the issue according to a report in the Publicans Morning Advertiser.
Recently, UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Inkeeping wrote to the Chancellor, emphasising the dire position of many hospitality businesses.
The joint letter advocated that the Chancellor announce an urgent package of measures for the hospitality industry in tomorrow’s Budget as nearly two-thirds of outlets won’t have enough cash to get through to the end of May. The UK government envisages lifting the restriction on indoor services on the 17th of May.
Businesses have been spending around £10,000 a month to stay closed. The ongoing proposed trading restrictions when they’re allowed reopen in May will still leave many unable to get out of the red until all such restrictions are fully lifted the following month, June.
And the BBPA believes that 29,000 pubs, or 60% of the total, will be unable to open for outside service on the 12th of April, the UK government’s target date.