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Pubs bearing brunt of beer tax hikes

Pub beer sales in the UK are continuing to fall as the off-trade reaps the benefits of steep recent rises in beer tax and VAT.

Beer sales in the on-trade fell 4.3% in the third quarter, while the off-trade saw volumes rise by 9.1% in the same period. Overall beer sales in the UK rose 1.6% on Q3 2010.

The British Beer and Pub Association’s (BBPA) Quarterly Beer Barometer shows that pubs are selling as much as 488,000 fewer pints per day.

“While the rate of decline is slowing, it has not bottomed out,” the association said.

It pointed out the key role of beer tax hikes in the figures. A statement said: “While real disposable incomes have fallen, huge beer tax rises are making one of life’s simple pleasures, a beer in the pub with friends, more and more unaffordable.”

Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said: “It is good to see some growth in the beer market overall, and we are seeing some new pubs opening, with successful operators innovating, and broadening their offer to consumers.

“However, there is no doubt that pubs continue to bear the brunt of Britain’s punitive tax policies on beer.

“We’ve seen beer tax rise by 35% since March 2008, with Britons now paying an astonishing 40% of all the beer taxes collected in the entire European Union. This is still shutting pubs and costing jobs, in a sector that could create growth in the economy.

“We know that given the right tax and regulatory environment we can grow the sector, hiring more staff, adding to the nation’s wealth and maintaining our proud pub heritage.

“We certainly don’t need the further beer tax rises the government is planning under a misguided tax escalator policy. Instead, we want to welcome everyone to support their local pub and play their part in their local community.”

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