The British Beer and Pub Association has warned that 60,000 jobs in the pub sector could be lost over the next five years if the Chancellor fails to backtrack on plans to increase tax on beer.
In a report People, pubs and Parliament: A new deal for Britain’s beer and pub sector, the BBPA describes the current economic climate as among `the toughest trading conditions in living memory` - and calls on Alistair Darling to rethink plans set out 12 months ago to impose tax escalator for the next four years.
Last year, the Chancellor increased beer tax by 18 per cent and also set out plans to impose a duty escalator of above-inflation taxes in each of the next four years to keep alcohol duties in line with rising incomes.
However, the BBPA, speaking in advance of the Budget on April 22, says average earnings are falling for the first time since records began and beer sales are also at their lowest level since the Depression in the 1930s.
BBPA chief executive David Long said: “Pubs are closing at a record rate and one in ten of the 600,000 jobs in the sector are under threat as a result of the worst trading conditions anyone can remember.
“This dire situation is driven by many factors, but the Government is adding to the misery through punitive increases in tax and regulation.
“Twelve months on from the last Budget the economic situation has changed radically. While average earnings were rising by almost five per cent in March last year, today they are actually falling. The Chancellor must now think again.
“Pubs play a vital economic and social role in all parts of the UK, and yet the industry was excluded from the VAT cut in November, is being burdened by more and more regulation, and now faces further tax increases in the Budget. The result will be to write off thousands more pubs and tens of thousands more jobs.”
The BBPA and the Campaign for Real Ale Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Great British Pub campaign has so far attracted support from 700,000 people and 202 MPs.
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