Alan Jones and Richard Wheeler
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The Chancellor brought some cheer to the nation’s beer drinkers by scrapping a duty escalator blamed for closing pubs - and going further by cutting duty by 1p today.
The beer industry and campaign groups have been warning the Government that the escalator, which has added 2pc to the price of a pint since it was introduced by Labour in 2008, was forcing pubs out of business.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) gathered more than 100,000 names on a petition which led to a parliamentary debate last year.
Camra pointed out that beer duty has risen 42% since 2008, adding that 18 pubs a week are closing.
Norwich landlady Dawn Hopkins, who runs Ketts Tavern in Ketts Hill and the Rose in Queens Road, has made visits to Westminster as part of the efforts to persuade MPs to make changes to help the pub industry.
George Osborne told MPs that 10,000 pubs have closed in the past decade.
Duty on alcohol will not be cut, but the Chancellor said the beer duty escalator will be scrapped, preventing a 3p rise this year.
Mr Osborne drew cheers from MPs when he said he intended to go further, by cutting beer duty 1p from Sunday evening.
Phil Cutter, landlord at The Murderers in Norwich, said: “I don’t think there’s a single pub up and down the country which has not let out a cheer now the beer duty escalator has been scrapped.
“It’s a step in the right direction but it doesn’t resolve the disparity between the price we pay in pubs compared to supermarkets. But it’s a starting point.”
For more reaction and analysis from landlords and the pub industry, including whether a cut in pint prices will follow, see tomorrow’s papers.