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Adnams chief calls for re-think over chancellor’s plan to hike beer tax

PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:46 24 October 2018

Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, is calling for the chancellor not to put up beer duty in the coming Budget. Picture: Anthony Cullen

Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, is calling for the chancellor not to put up beer duty in the coming Budget. Picture: Anthony Cullen

Anthony Cullen

Pressure on the chancellor to drop plans to increase beer duty is coming to a head - with the boss of East Anglian brewery Adnams adding his voice to calls.

Andy Wood, chief executive of the Southwold brewer and pubs group, warned that the increase would pile further pressure on pubs, which are already closing at the rate of three a day.

He said the chancellor had the chance to act on Conservative promises to back business – and warned that pubs were battling increasing costs, higher taxes and competition from drinking at home.

“Across the eastern region alone we contribute £2.4bn to the economy, employ 85,731 people and pay a whopping £942m a year in tax. Every pub boosts its local economy by an average of £80,000 per year,” he said.

“Despite pub closures at a rate of three a day, we are still home to just short of 4,000 pubs and 178 breweries. £1 in every £3 spent in the pub goes straight to the taxman. Hard-pressed British beer drinkers pay 40% of all Europe’s beer duty despite drinking only 12% of the beer.”

Mr Wood spoke out as part of the British Beer & Pub Association’s Long Live the Local campaign, which is calling for a cut in beer tax in Monday’s budget. So far, more than 112,000 people have signed the petition to cut beer tax and 45,000 have written to their local MP in support of the campaign.

He said British beer drinkers paid 12 times more than their German counterparts.

“As a business that beer tax bill comes straight off our bottom line. It means we literally have less money to invest in our pubs, in sustaining the quality and range of our beers and in keeping our business competitive in the face of all the other cost pressures we face,” said Mr Wood.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is widely expected to announce a 3.4% hike in beer duty in Monday’s budget, prompting warnings from landlords that, in an industry where margins are notoriously tight, they will have to pass the cost on to drinkers.

Office for National Statistics figures showed that 145 pubs and bars across Norfolk closed between 2010 and 2017, with each pub job estimated to support a further 18 in the supply chain.

Adnams employs more than 550 people across its pubs, restaurants, hotel, brewery, shops and distillery.

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