New plunge in real ale sales despite summer of sport

By: JimOldfield

October 23rd, 2012

Britons drank 117m fewer pints of beer between July and September this year… despite a sporting backdrop that included the European footy finals and the London Olympic Games.

BodyAnd the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has pinned the latest, 5.6 per cent, plunge firmly on the door of 11, Downing Street.

The BBPA says Chancellor George Osborne’s stubborn refusal to halt the beer tax “escalator” is now seriously threatening jobs in the brewing and pub sectors – and has renewed calls for him to halt it.

The escalator has been responsible for a staggering 42 per cent hike in the price of a pint since 2008, and the Government now rakes off one third of the price of every pint sold.

The figures – comparing the quarter’s performance with that of 2011 – show a 4.8 per cent drop in sales of beer in pubs, with 51 million fewer pints bought by pubgoers.

And sales in supermarkets and off-licence were down, by 6.5 per cent. As bought beer gets more expensive, its sales decline is being matched by a boom in home-brewing. The Home Brew Shop, Britain’s biggest retailer of kits, has said sales have increased by 46pc over the past year.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds lashed: “If the government wants to encourage growth, back British business and support local communities, then it must end the beer duty escalator.

“The chancellor must listen to the thousands of people now calling for a change, so the sector can grow, create jobs and contribute more to UK plc.”

According to analysis by Oxford Economics done for the BBPA, the 5 per cent rise in beer duty in the March 2012 Budget will not raise any money for the Government because the £92m in extra revenues will be offset by the loss in employment and other taxes caused by the resulting 5,000 redundancies.

The latest figures put further pressure on politicians for an urgent Parliamentary debate on the damage to brewing – one of Britain’s few growth industries in the recession – following the overwhelming 100,000-plus petition to sort out the tax scandal.