By: JimOldfield

October 23rd, 2012

People-power has won out – with MPs finally granting a full Parliamentary debate on the Government’s controversial “beer duty escalator”. The 100,000-plus e-petition has helped win a three-hour debate a week today (Thursday, November 1) with a motion that will call on the Government to review the hated tax policy.

And the brewers’ society, SIBA, moved quickly today – with a huge call to arms, to all its 800 brewer and supplier members plus more than 100 SIBA Local pubs.

It has emailed its entire membership list – tasking them with encouraging their local MP to support the debate, and to secure local media coverage for the issue.

Keith_BottSIBA chairman Keith Bott (pictured right) said: “SIBA is delighted that this debate, much-desired by the nation’s brewers, pubs and drinkers, is now taking place.

“We are now calling on our members to help us fill the House of Commons next Thursday and ensure that the debate has the outcome we all want – a review of beer taxation before the next Budget.

“SIBA members are strongly rooted in their local community, providing employment directly and indirectly to local people. They are therefore able to present a very targeted and persuasive case to their local MP.”

He added: “We are unlikely to have another opportunity like this to change our industry. We are urging our members to take time out of running their brewery or pubs to support this debate – as without drastic action now on beer duty, there may not be pubs left to run, with inevitable negative consequences for the brewers who supply them”.

Just this week, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) revealed another huge drop in beer consumption over this summer (see top right news panel).

The BBPA says that since the introduction of the escalator in March 2008, beer duty has increased by 42 per cent and beer sales have fallen by 15 per cent.. Over the period, 6,000 pubs have closed, with beer taxation costing the average pub around £66,000 per year.

brigid_260712BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds (left), said: “I welcome this decision; which shows many MPs are indeed listening to the public on this issue.

“This is about consumers – pub goers, beer drinkers and licensees who hate the tax which hits everyone hard. The task now is to persuade the Government that excessive tax hikes are the wrong policy, hurting jobs and pubs when instead, we could be delivering growth and employment.”

In the Commons, the charge is being led by Burton-upon-Trent Tory, MP Andrew Griffiths – chairman of the parliamentary beer group – who said: “This is a big chance to get the beer duty escalator scrapped once and for all”.

The escalator raises taxes by two per cent above inflation each year and puts an estimated pound on the price of every pint.

It was introduced by Labour but Tory Chancellor George Osborne has so far resisted all attempted to have the lucrative cash-cow tax repealed, despite repeated warnings that it threatens to destroy one of the UK’s few flourishing industries.