Constituents have contacted me in relation to beer duties. I’ve been a member of the Campaign for Real Ale for 25 years and am very passionate about the need to keep our beer and pub heritage going. Pubs need their duties to be lower across the board so I have explained below what the Government has done in this regard.
As announced at the 2018 Autumn Budget, duties on beer, cider, and spirits have again been frozen. This year, the price of a typical pint of beer will be 2p lower than if prices had risen with inflation; the price of a pint of cider will be 1p lower; and the price of a bottle of Scotch whisky will be 30p lower. This follows the removal of the beer duty escalator in 2013 and the unprecedented cuts and freezes in beer duty since then, as well as the removal of the duty escalator for spirits, wine and cider in 2014.
I am pleased that the Government was able to deliver this, in order to support our great British spirits distilleries, our cider producers, our brewing industry and our local pubs. I support the fact that the Government is continuing to look at ways to improve the system of alcohol taxation, to ensure it helps to tackle binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries.
When the duty escalator was removed in 2014, spirit duty was also frozen. The spirits industry was then given a further boost when spirit duty was cut by 2 per cent in 2015, and then frozen again in 2016. In 2019, the average tax on a bottle of Scotch whisky is expected to be £1.54 lower than it otherwise would have been, since ending the spirits escalator in 2014.
When the duty escalator was removed in 2014, cider duty was also frozen. The cider industry was then given a further boost when duty for ordinary cider was cut by 2 per cent in 2015, and then frozen again in 2016. The tax on a typical pint of cider is expected to be 4p lower than it otherwise would have been, since ending the cider escalator in 2014.
The numbers of small brewers have increased significantly in recent years, from just 400 in 2002 to around 2,000 at present. I recognise that small brewers’ relief has really helped the growth of the industry but that there are also some concerns about how the relief works. That is why I welcomed the announcement at the Autumn Budget that the Government will review the current Small Breweries’ Relief to ensure it is supporting growth in the sector.
With regard to further freezes in alcohol duties, decisions on this will be taken in due course at the forthcoming Autumn Budget 2019.