A decade of Government investment in the local brewing sector has produced an industry that is ‘thriving’, although the future remains threatened by ‘punitive’ levels of beer taxation, according to the Local Beer Report 2012 published today by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).
The report highlights the positive impact of Small Breweries’ Relief (SBR), which has allowed for an increase in SIBA’s membership from 235 to 550 brewers. It also shows that the number of employees in member breweries increased by 25 per cent and two-thirds of brewers invested in new premises or equipment to meet a growing demand.
But despite the evident success of SBR, the Julian Grocock, SIBA’s chief executive, believes the Government now seems intent on destroying these smaller brewers’ main route to market – the great British pub.
Grocock said: “What frustrates us, in our pre-Budget campaigning this year, as in previous years, is the Government’s inconsistent approach to local brewing. They can see the positive results of their investment, in the form of SBR, and yet they seem unable to apply the same logic to pubs, which are, like small brewers, capable of making a valuable contribution to their local economy.
“The current beer taxation regime amounts to disinvestment in the local brewing industry.”
The Local Beer Report also highlights the local brewing industry’s credentials in creating jobs. Four thousand full-time employees work in SIBA’s 550 member brewers – a 25% increase on the 2010 figure. Within the brewing industry as a whole, every job in a brewery creates, on average, an estimated 21 further jobs in pubs and other parts of the beer supply chain.
“Local brewers’ ability to create jobs is surely a strong argument for Government to continue its support for the sector,” added Grocock. “The Government appears to want its cake and eat it, but the truth is that a flourishing local brewing sector, making a sustainable contribution to local and national economies, has to go hand in hand with a similarly prospering pub industry.”
Earlier this month, BigHospitality reported that the British beer and pub industry is unanimously demanding a freeze in the Government’s controversial beer tax escalator as hospitality businesses are gearing up for next month’s announcement on the 2012 budget.