Pubs and brewers disappointed by alcohol duty reversal ahead of ‘toughest winter in history’
Pubs will be “hit extremely hard” this winter after the government scrapped an upcoming alcohol duty freeze, industry chiefs said.
The duty freeze was one of many policies consigned to a bonfire of tax cuts from newly-appointed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Monday.
Announced just a few weeks ago by Hunt’s predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng, the move would have been introduced in February.
The measure would have delivered a £300m saving to the pub industry, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
The u-turn came at a time when “we desperately need any relief we can get, to help to keep a lid on spiralling costs and keep the price of pint affordable for pub goers this winter,” the BBPA’s chief executive Emma McClarkin said.
After the war in Ukraine and sky-high increases to energy prices, the cost of doing business was “completely out of control” for pubs and brewers, she said.
Publicans could not wait until a February budget for more certainty on how inflationary pressures would be eased, McClarkin said, calling for urgent action before pubs were lost “forever” across the UK.
What’s more, chair of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), Michael Kill, said Hunt’s statement had “critically compromised thousands of businesses and workers across our sector.”
Alcohol duty in creases would “add to already untenable operating costs,” while the sector has been left “now facing one of the toughest winters on history,” Kill said.
The Treasury said the U-turn would save the country’s coffers £600m and that alcohol duty would now rise in line with inflation.
The next phase of the government’s alcohol duty review is set to continue as scheduled, meaning businesses will be have to wait a few more weeks for details about a wide-ranging shake-up of the duty system.
“This is creating more uncertainty for small brewers who are facing an extremely challenging trading environment dominated by energy spikes, price increases and a cost of living crisis,” the Society of Independent Brewers’ (SIBA) chair Roy Allkin said.