The TaxPayers Alliance (TPA) has launched a new campaign urging George Osborne to freeze beer duty in next month’s Budget.
The campaign, called “Mash Beer Tax”, will see hundreds of thousands of beermats (pictured left) distributed to pubs across the UK, giving the public the facts about tax on beer, and inviting them to send a message to their local MP calling for action from George Osborne on March 20.
Launching the campaign TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: “Beer is already taxed more in the UK than almost every other country in Europe.
“Yet another rise in Beer Duty at this year’s Budget would be a further blow to people already struggling with the increasing cost of living. It would also harm the scores of pubs whose existence is under threat because ever higher taxes are putting people off going for a drink.
“The abolition of the Beer Duty Escalator is long overdue and a freeze in the rate at this year’s Budget would help people coping with so many other pressures on their finances.”
The TPA, which claims to fight to reform taxes, cut spending and protect taxpayers, added that beer duty has risen by more than 40% in the last four years and that beer duty in the UK is the second highest in the EU.
In launching the campaign the TPA also cited figures from the Campaign for Real Ale showing that more than 5,800 pubs have closed since the former chancellor Alistair Darling introduced the beer tax escalator in 2008.
Mr Sinclair added: “In opposition, Conservative and Lib Dem politicians were quick to decry the beer duty escalator for the burden it places on people wanting to enjoy a drink and the threat it poses to pubs up and down the country. They’re now in a position to do something about it.”
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association welcomed the TPA’s campaign, which also featured in today’s Sun newspaper.
Simmonds, speaking on ITV’s Daybreak programme this morning, said: “With the TaxPayers Alliance and The Sun calling for an end to excessive beer tax hikes, this campaign shows that consumer support for a duty freeze is growing fast. With a tax freeze, the industry could create jobs for the chancellor, and at the same time protect Treasury revenues.”
Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) also supported the campaign, highlighting that all alcoholic drinks are subject to the alcohol duty escalator.
WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “We welcome this TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign which highlights the devastating impact of the alcohol duty escalator on our industry. We are facing further rises of around 5% in this year’s Budget, meaning that wine taxation would have risen by 50% and spirits by 44% since 2008.
“The alcohol duty escalator has had a significant impact on the wider wines and spirits industry, and any increase in alcohol duty will have an immediate impact on pubs. It is important that we send a clear message to the government that the only way to support the pub industry is to scrap the alcohol duty escalator immediately.”
Consumers can visit www.mashbeertax.org and, after entering their postcode, send a message directly to their MP urging them to press the chancellor for a freeze in beer duty.