The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) says the figures are certain to add to calls for a rethink on the huge tax hikes being planned for the next UK Budget.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “This new report shows the astonishing scale of the tax burden that the UK government is putting on our brewing industry, which remains one of the most important in Europe.”
Despite having only 12 per cent of the EU population and 13 per cent of total beer consumption, the UK Beer Tax bill has now reached £3.2bn per year - over five times as much tax as the total paid by German beer drinkers, who drink twice as much beer as the Brits.
In recent years, 15 EU countries have raised beer taxes as part of the struggle to balance their books - yet this has not brought in more revenues, as cash-strapped European consumers have switched to cheaper supermarket deals, pushing pub and hospitality industry workers out of work.
“With 40 per cent of all European beer taxes collected in Britain, the figures point starkly at the key cause of the thousands of pubs and many breweries that have closed in Britain in recent years,” added Simmonds.
“And yet our sector has so much potential to create vital jobs in the hospitality industry. The UK treasury must take a very close look at these findings, and call a halt to further tax hikes.”
Despite the numbers, the UK is a still a leader in the brewing sector, with the second highest number of breweries in Europe’s £106 bn beer market, topped only by Germany.
And Britain’s world-renowned pubs still account for a higher proportion of on-trade beer sales in Britain than on the continent – 51 per cent of British beer is consumed in pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants, as opposed to 37 per cent in Europe.