Shepherd Neame is urging citizens to sign a petition calling on the Government to halt swingeing increases in beer taxes that threaten jobs, many for young people.
The UK’s oldest brewer, based in Faversham, says a 42% hike has hit an industry employing one in 12 18-24 years olds and could hire many more.
The petition already has the support of nearly 50,000 people nationwide and needs to reach 100,000 to trigger a parliamentary debate on the impact of beer taxes on the brewing and pub industry.
It is backed by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the British Beer & Pub Association.
Around a million jobs depend on the beer and pub trade in Britain, yet the Coalition Government continues to apply the controversial beer tax escalator policy of the previous Labour administration.
The Government often cites binge drinking as a reason for maintaining the escalator. But while duty has risen by 42%, beer sales have fallen and thousands of pubs have closed.
Around 4,500 people work in the Shepherd Neame brewery and 350 pubs across the south east, 250 in Kent. The company had to stump up £28.5 million in beer excise duty in 2011.
Jonathan Neame, chief executive, said: “In spite of duty rising by 42 per cent, the government has only increased revenue by 10 per cent.
Beer duty has become a highly inefficient way of raising revenue, but by increasing the rate, the potential for the industry to reinvest in pubs and create jobs has been restricted.
“Our sector employs one in twelve 18–24 years olds in the UK, the age range where jobs are most needed in our economy. The beer and pub industry can provide those jobs, but not while this government policy remains in place.”