Brewers blame high taxes for fall in beer sales

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has accused the UK government of damaging the brewing industry after new figures showed another fall in beer sales in pubs and supermarkets.

The BBPA said increasing taxes were to blame for the 5.6% reduction in the past three months, adding that there was now an urgent need to freeze the beer duty escalator.

The association said that around 117 million 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.

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 beer tax “escalator” policy means duty increases of 2% above inflation until 2014/15.

MPs will now call for a Parliamentary debate on the impact of beer taxes, following a petition signed by over 100,000 people, which demanded government action on the issue.

A Treasury spokesman said: “The government hugely values the economic contribution made by pubs and breweries. We have introduced a range of tax measures that will help the alcohol industry, and pubs in particular.

“Cutting employers’ national insurance contributions will make it cheaper for pubs to employ people on incomes of less than £21,000. Small beer producers are also benefiting from the small breweries relief.

“However, at a time when we are working hard to get down the deficit, alcohol duty revenues do make an important contribution to the public finances. Crucially, the government has not made any changes beyond what was announced at the budget in 2008.”

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