New blow for pubs and beer
How many pubs does Alistair Darling and the Labour government want to see close?
Today's mini-budget is another body blow for the beleaguered pub trade, putting a further six pence on the price of a pint of beer, following the swingeing increase in the full budget earlier this year.
It's typical tactics by the exchequer -- give with one hand and take away with the other. The decrease in VAT meant some relief for pubs, but that has been wiped out by the increase in duty on alcohol. The rise in duty means that in many parts of the country a pint of beer will now cost more than £3. Already five pubs a day are closing and the number will now accelerate as publicans find it impossible to compete with supermarkets. People on low incomes, faced by rising prices and unemployment, will be driven in to the arms of the supermarkets as they peddle cheap alcohol.
The government says it wants to help small businesses but it always excludes the pub trade from its policies. Labour did help craft brewers through the introduction of Progressive Beer Duty, which means small brewers pay less duty than bigger producers. But the advantages of PBD have been wiped out in recent years by budget rises in duty and the ham-fisted manner in which the smoking ban was brought in: pubs with more than one bar should have been able to set aside a room for smokers. which is the case in mainland Europe.
It seems governments, whatever their stripe, do nothing to help pubs and brewers. The Conservatives caused mayhem in the 1990s with their Beer Orders that created the modern pub companies, with serious restrictions on choice for drinkers, and now Labour seems determined toi tax pubs out of existence.
We need a party that stands up for pubs and beer lovers.