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Increases in beer duty are driving Westcountry pubs 'to the wall'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 27, 2013

Pub landlords and brewers are demanding an end to the  Government's beer duty escalator, which lumps around 10p on the average pint every year

Pub landlords and brewers are demanding an end to the Government's beer duty escalator, which lumps around 10p on the average pint every year

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Pub landlords and brewers want the Chancellor to call time on automatic Treasury hikes in beer duty which, they say, are sending a dozen Westcountry pubs to the wall each month.

Campaigners from the region are set to gather today to present George Osborne with a "message in a barrel" – demanding an end to the Government's beer duty escalator, which lumps around 10p on the average pint every year.

MPs, real ale campaigners, small breweries, the pub and landlord industry body and the TaxPayers Alliance have all united in opposition to the inflation-busting tax rise.

The measure – introduced by Labour Chancellor Alastair Darling – adds 2% on top of the headline rate and has increased pump prices by 40% since in 2008, accounting for two-thirds the price of a pint.

John Lawton, owner of the Newton Abbot-based Teignworthy Brewery, who plans to join the Whitehall delegation, said 6,000 pubs had closed nationwide since its introduction.

He estimates "two to three" pubs each week in Devon and Cornwall are being forced to shut, a claim highlighted by the recent closure of Dartmoor's historic Drewe Arms.

"Our beer tax is the highest in Europe – it is continuing to rise and pubs are continuing to close," he added.

"First it was the post offices then the farmers now publicans now need daytime jobs just to keep trading.

"Osborne is very crafty – he doesn't have to announce an increase in duty in his Budget speech, he just says it will be in line with the escalator."

Experts in Cornwall said the county's total of 620 pubs remained unchanged in 2012.

However, rising prices have been blamed for a "constant stream" of landlords, going out of business, then being replaced. Rod Davis, pubs officer for he Campaign for real Ale (CAMRA), said: "I was surprised to find a net loss of zero last year but that figure hides a lot of pain and grief.

"The churn is quite high down here and people really struggle – both the free-houses and those run by the pub companies."

The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) yesterday launched a major new campaign calling for a freeze in beer duty at next month's Budget.

Hundreds of thousands of beer mats will be distributed to pubs, detailing "the facts about tax on beer" and inviting the public to send a message to their local MP calling for action.

Matthew Sinclair, TPA chief executive, said another rise next month would be "a further blow to people already struggling with the increasing cost of living".

He 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 are now in a position to do something about it."

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), CAMRA and the Small Independent Brewers Association (SIBA), are supporting the campaign.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds, said a tax freeze could create jobs and protect Treasury revenues."

Devon MP Mel Stride said reducing duty would help vibrant pubs remain "at the heart of local communities".

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8 comments

  • eu_blues  |  February 28 2013, 2:59PM

    Pub landlords and brewers want the Chancellor to call time on automatic Treasury hikes in beer duty which, they say, are sending a dozen Westcountry pubs to the wall each month. This is Cornwall The government is attacking local communties and especially places where people meet and discuss. Pubs are a important place for socializing and communicating. Obviously the government is attacking the heart of communities by shutting down pubs, and in doing so, the goverment is finishing off what's left of the pubs by attacking them with hikes in beer duty. It seems isolation of communities is better than having a place to meet and socialise. Britain is becoming a Soviet state. And the government seems determind to destroy what's left of UK plc.

    |   5
  • robocop1982  |  February 27 2013, 4:11PM

    it makes no sense does it. they wont legalize weed yet war is legal and they glorify people killing yet to smoke a plant is not legal. This government has lost the plot. one thing we must establish is they are corrupt obviously. JUst imagine they great vibe of people being able to smoke weed and drink beer in outdoor pub areas. it would make things better. it seems like this government want to make people short time on this planet as miserable as possible. now you know who the real bad guys are

  • robocop1982  |  February 27 2013, 4:06PM

    legalize weed and bring peace and profit to torbay

  • DevonJanner  |  February 27 2013, 3:15PM

    the demon drink is bad for us we are told,so what`s the problem!!

  • omnivore23  |  February 27 2013, 2:12PM

    .....but still BS.

  • uquip  |  February 27 2013, 11:08AM

    Yes Mike, surely any time between 8am and 4am the following day would have been more accurate.

    |   -17
  • omnivore23  |  February 27 2013, 10:45AM

    That is such BS. Im sure there are fights in pubs, and the occasional joint being smoked outside. But - ANY pub in Plainmoor or Belgrave Road at ANY time of the day? Ever wonder why no-one on this forum takes you seriously, whatever name you use?

    |   19
  • MrMikeHunt  |  February 27 2013, 9:44AM

    Go into any pub in plainmoor at any time of the day and expect to see a fight. Go into any pub on Belgrave road at any time of the day and expect to smell and be offered cannabis. It is not duty that is driving people out of the pubs, it is common sense. We need a few more of these pits to go under and Torquay needs to develop itself along more sober european lines.

    |   -17

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