Budget 2012: Norwich pub owners fear the worst after chancellor’s ‘knife in the back’

Norwich pub owners are fearing the worst for their trade following chancellor George Osborne's budget announcement that the price of a pint will rise by more than 5pc from next week.

They feel they have been dealt a raw deal, with alcohol duty rates rising 2pc above RPI (retail price index) inflation.

Phil Cutter, landlord at Norwich city centre pub the Murderers and co-chair of the Norwich City of Ale festival, said: 'It has been a big day for pubs. It seems to be to be another knife in the back. The British Beer and Pub Association were saying that if the duty went up, which it has, it could be 300,000 jobs go in the industry.

'That is bar staff, publicans, delivery drivers, lot of people that could be affected.

'This could be the thing that makes some publicans who are struggling think 'right, that's it' and have to close.'

There was only a short mention of the alcohol duty rises in George Osborne's speech, initially appearing to announce little change for the industry.

Mr Cutter says the reality will be far worse though, saying: 'It seems from watching the budget that they have really skirted around the issue. It said there was no change but in theory the rate hasn't changed and will continue to rise 2pc above inflation.

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'So my customers are going to come in and say 'good to see there was no change in the budget' but it is actually going to be about a 5.4pc increase on beer, which could put nearly 20p on a pint.

'That, on top of a recent increase from the breweries of about 10pc to 15pc, makes it a regrettable decision.

'I can understand that there is a big hole in the economy which needs to be filled but I feel the government have gone about it in totally the wrong way.'

The British Beer and Pub Associations said the average new price of a pint of lager will be �3.17, with pubs having to pay �2,800 each in extra duty.

Dawn Hopkins, landlady of The Rose, on Queens Road, and The Ketts Tavern, on Ketts Hill, echoed Mr Cutter's thoughts.

With supermarkets now accounting for around 70pc of alcohol sales, Mrs Hopkins felt this year's budget was another blow for the pub trade, saying: 'There is nothing in the budget at all that helps pubs or breweries. There was no minimum alcohol price for supermarkets so they can continue to sell beer cheaper than water.

'Pubs were already struggling and closing at the rate of 16 a week so a price hike of somewhere around 5p and 10p on a pint, I can't see that things are going to get any better.'

What do you think of the budget? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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