Pre-Budget Memo to George Osborne: beer taxes are counter-productive. They’re too high. You’re planning a punitive increase in the Budget. This will not raise new revenue, but it will be a body-blow to the hard-pressed beer and pub industries. That’s why I’m supporting a campaign by the British Beer and Pub Association calling for freeze on beer taxes.
In the UK, we’re outrageously overtaxed on beer. Believe it or not, we pay more than ten times as much tax on beer as the Germans — so how are our brewers supposed to compete? Britons now pay 40% of all the beer tax in the EU — but drink only 13% of the beer!
A new study by Oxford Economics shows that the beer and pub sector sustains 70,000 jobs in the East Midlands region alone, including nearly 22,000 jobs for young people (16 to 24 years old), and it adds £1.1 billion to the local economy. It also contributes over £1 billion to the Exchequer in taxes.
The local pub used to be at the heart of English communities. But the sector has taken a series of hits, and we have several pubs closing in England every week. There were the drink-driving laws, then the smoking ban, and now the competition from cheap supermarket beers. The pub trade is a vital part of our heritage, and it’s directly threatened by unrealistic proposals for beer tax hikes. Osborne must think again.