Simon Hoggart’s parliamentary sketch (22 March) suggested that alcoholduty rates were not increased by the chancellor. But Osborne’s statement that he was not touching duty rates was sleight of hand. As a result of the coalition government’s refusal to drop Alistair Darling‘s “duty escalator”, the duty on beer has risen by a further 2%. This will mean an increase in the price of a pint of 5-10p. The government, in common with Labour, is attacking a traditional British industry that employs – in brewing and retailing – close to 1 million people but is being savaged by annual tax increases. Beer duty has risen by 35% in the past five years and Britain, a great beer-producing and beer-drinking nation, now pays 40% of all EU beer taxes while consuming only 13% of all the beer brewed and consumed within the community. Keith Bott, chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers, says the industry is “on its knees”. Would a member of the government care to explain why brewing has been turned into a tax milch cow, leading to the closure of thousands ofpubs at the heart of local communities?
Good Beer Guide