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Victory as UK beer taxes are frozen

The Chancellor George Osborne has today announced a freeze in beer duty in support of brewers, pubs and beer drinkers.

Beer taxes will be frozen this year and won’t go up in line with inflation as expected (Photo: Flickr)

Mr Osborne used his 2016 budget, which is being unveiled today, to halt the rise in beer duty.

The levy was meant go up this year in line with inflation, adding to the price of a pint of beer.

But today’s freeze means pints are 10p cheaper since 2013, when the Chancellor first scrapped the duty escalator – a tool that saw beer taxes rise above inflation.

Mr Osborne has now cut beer taxes in all of his last four budgets.

Duty on whisky has also been frozen as part of the 2016 budget, while the duty on other alcohol will continue to rise in line with inflation.

The beer levy cut follows a vocal campaign from the British Beer and Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale, who among others have warned that crippling beer taxes have led to dozens of pubs closing around the country.

Camra estimates that 27 pubs close every week and 20,000 jobs would be risk in the beer and pub industries if a tax cut wasn’t made this year.

Andrew Griffiths MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, welcomed the move after yesterday pressing Business Secretary Sajid Javid to commit to a duty cut.

In response, Mr Javid told parliament: “There are plenty of reasons to cut beer duty”, signalling his Treasury colleague would take action to help beer drinkers and the trade.

“This is fantastic news and will be a huge relief to publicans and drinkers across Britain,” Mr Griffiths said. “We will all be raising a glass to him today.”

A poll last month found that 72% of the British public backed a cut or freeze in beer duty.

British drinkers are currently the second most heavily taxed in Europe, with the 52p-per-pint rate topped only by Finland, where drinkers have to pay 72p to the government for every pint of beer they buy.

The beer and pub industry brings in £13 billion in tax revenue to the Exchequer each year and supports nearly 900,000 jobs, campaigners say.

Camra chief executive Tim Page said last week: “Without the last three cuts, beer prices would be higher and there would be fewer pubs. A fourth cut would keep the price of a pint down and keep pubs open.”

This story was updated at 13:34 GMT upon George Osborne’s announcement to parliament. Previously, this story reported on speculation of a cut in beer duty.

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