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Beer chiefs turn on Osborne

The UK’s largest breweries and pub groups have written to chancellor George Osborne in protest at the 10,000 job losses anticipated over the next year as a result of his tax "onslaught".

In a letter from the British Beer & Pub Association seen by The Sunday Telegraph, a total of 33 executives warned the chancellor that the ongoing rise in beer duty not only fails to bring in the revenue initially estimated, but at the same time damages a primarily UK-based industry.

Only last week, the BBPA published its annual report, which calculated that the beer and pub industries employ 837,545 people in England alone, adding a gross value of £18.5 billion to the English economy during the 2009/10 year.

Signatories to the letter are reported to include Stefan Orlowski, managing director of Heineken UK; Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, and Ted Tuppen, chief executive of Enterprise Inns.

The three page letter repeated last month’s claim by the BBPA that the pressure created by March’s Budget beer tax increase of 7.2% would “cost 10,000 jobs this year alone”. The data quoted was drawn from a report by Oxford Economics, which was released last month by the BBPA.

Calling on the chancellor to adopt “a new and different approach”, the industry representatives argued: “This is not compatible with a Budget designed to promote growth and will have a devastating effect on our sector.”

According to the Oxford Economics report, a freeze on duty could have generated up to £40 million in extra tax revenues for the government.

Gabriel Savage, 12.04.2011

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