CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak is under pressure from Tory MPs to slash beer duty in next month’s Budget.
A cut in the duty would help pubs which have suffered massively as a result of coronavirus lockdowns, a group of 68 Conservative MPs argue.
They have written to Mr Sunak warning that the “devastating” consequences of the pandemic have put pubs and breweries at risk.
In the letter – co-ordinated by North West Durham MP Richard Holden – the MPs called for a “significant cut in beer duty over the course of this Parliament”.
They warned that some pubs, many of them “long-standing community assets” could be lost for good – with a “substantial” knock-on effect on brewers.
The average UK pint is taxed around 11 times higher than the equivalent beer in Germany or Spain, they said, with the total £3.6 billion in beer duty paid each year higher than France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland combined.
Britons pay 54p in duty on a pint of five per cent beer, while in Spain and Germany the equivalent duty would be just 5p.
Mr Holden, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said: “Our pubs are at the heart of our communities and lockdown has hit them harder than any other sector.
“Whilst the government support has been welcome, it has not made up for the massive impact of being closed for so long on these vital local institutions.”
Mr Holden added: “The best way for them to build back better after this crisis is to get people back into pubs, and the best encouragement for publicans and the public is to see real action on beer duty.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “Pubs are the heart of our communities and a vital part of the UK economy, with a presence in just about every city, town and village across the country.
“Amid this crisis though they face an existential threat, and thousands could be lost for good.
“It is up to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to deliver the support our pubs and brewers need.
“That includes a beer duty cut that allows them to survive and thrive in the future.
“I hope he listens to our sector and those on his backbenches pleading him to do the right thing.”
Welcoming their support, David Cunningham, Programme Director for Long Live The Local, said:
“We have gathered more than 500,000 signatures and 275,000 people have written to their MP since the campaign started.
“Each signature and email represent someone who cares deeply about pubs and breweries and wants the Government to ensure they can continue to play a vital role in their local community and economy.
“I`m pleased to see so many MPs have recognised how much their constituents want to see a cut in beer duty”