MPs rally to end beer tax

By staff

More than 100 MPs have signed up to a campaign calling on the government to axe plans to increase beer tax in this year’s budget.

Over 10,000 people lobbied their members of parliament over eight weeks, raising concerns over the state of the pub industry including the worrying number of closures and falling sales.

The “Axe the Beer Tax – Save the Pub” campaign was launched by industry and consumer groups in late November last year.

Since then, 20,000 people have signed up as supporters and 113 MPs – 50 Labour, 40 Lib Dem and 17 Conservative – have signed EDM 10 supporting the aims of the campaign.

Beer sales are currently at their lowest levels in almost 40 years, with latest figures showing a nine per cent decline during last year.

The campaign claims that almost six pubs across the country are closing every day, with thousands of people losing their jobs.

The government has announced plans to increase duty on beer from April and then by two per cent above inflation each year for three years.

Rob Hayward, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association has described the planned tax hikes as “unfair and unsustainable”.

“Pubs are a vital part of communities up and down the country and play a vital role in the British way of life,” he said.

“Yet nearly six pubs are closing every day. The thousands of people who have lobbied their MP over the last few weeks is a clear demonstration of the deep concern and anger felt among landlords, customers and the wider public at what is happening.”

Mike Benner, chief executive from the Campaign for Real Ale, added: “Today, a third of a pint of beer goes to the taxman – and now the government wants to increase it even further.

At a time when pubs are suffering from the wider recession, the chancellor’s tax plans will be a hammer blow to consumers and industry alike.

“Our campaign will increase in intensity in the run-up to the Budget to ensure that the government hears our message about saving the Great British Pub loud and clear.”