Little cheer in budget for beer drinkers
Siba chairman Keith Bott said: ""We became accumstomed to the last administration talking up its support for pubs and then imposing fiscal measures that ensured more of them went to the wall. Now it seems the new government is similarly unable or unwilling to make the connection between increasing beer prices and closing pubs. The increase will cause yet more distress to our beleaguered licensees who have already had to deal with one budget this year.
"Siba is particuarly concerned that today's VAT increase does nothing to encourage consumers to drink cask beer rather than stronger alcohols with greater potential to cause harm. Cask beer, with its relatively low ABV, is always consumed in the controlled, socially-responsible environment of the pub, making it a much less damaging form of alcohol that cheap supermarket-bought spirits."
Keith Bott added: "It seems particularly unfair that the government is announcing another hammering for pubs just when they are coming into their own as hubs for communities to gather and celebrate -- or commiserate -- over England's progress in the World Cup.
"We urge the Chancellor to give consideration in the next Budget to a reduction in beer duty as a way of mitigating against the particular damage that the increase in VAT will have on British pubs."
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today predicted that the impact of a VAT hike to 20% in January 2011 will force the rate of pub closures to increase above the current devastating rate of 39 a week.
Mike Benner, CAMRA's chief executive, said: "In the New Year, many pubgoers will be hit with a VAT increase that will push up the combined taxation on a pint of beer to over a £1. This historically sad moment for the nation's 15 million pubgoers is compounded by the knowledge that this increase will cause yet more well-run community pubs to shut their doors unless the Government acts. Relentless tax increases on the nation's pubs are contributing to pub closures, job losses and a decline in community spirit.
"The announcemenbt of a review into alcohol pricing and taxation this autumn gives the Government an opportunity to avoid the harm that this VAT increase will impose on pubs. CAMRA will be pressing for targeted measures to support well-run community pubs. These measures could include a new class of business rate relief for community pubs and a compensatory reduction in beer duty."