Over 400 MPs will be lobbied throughout the day as new figures show that the number of regular pub-goers has fallen by more than three million since the controversial beer duty escalator was introduced in 2008.
“Over the past 40 years there have been fewer threats to the UK pub industry as severe as the beer duty escalator,” said Camra’s national chairman Colin Valentine. “This is why so many of our members from across the country have travelled to Westminster to participate in today’s lobby.
“Even after a Government e-petition reaching 100,000 signatures,and a Parliamentary debatewhere MPs present unanimously backed a review of the beer duty escalator,the Government does not appear to have woken up to the crippling social and economic impact their actions are having on valued community pubs.”
The beer duty escalator is a policy causing tax on beer to automatically increase by 2 per cent above inflation every year. Since its launch, beer tax has increased by more than 40 per cent – to one of the highest rates in Europe - with over a third of every pint pulled in a pub now paid in duty and VAT. During this period, over 5,800 pubs have been forced to close their doors.
Valentine believes any more increases in beer duty will pile the pressure on pubs already struggling to survive, and damage the long-term ability of the beer and pub sector to continue contributing over £6bn a year in duty and VAT, and over £21bn to the UK’s GDP.
He added: “With the nation’s pub closure rate back on the increase, what the Government should be doing is looking at ways to alleviate the burden on struggling pubs, and further recognise their importance as community assets.
“Such a huge decline in the number of regular pub goers, as seen with today’s figures, is a critical reminder that change needs to happen fast to prevent irreparable damage to community life in the UK, and to save the nation’s proud pub going heritage from being taxed into oblivion.”
Camra’s mass Parliamentary lobby takes place today (12 December) from 11am, with its members convening at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street. At 4pm, a rally will take place at the Emmanuel Centre with leading MPs due to speak.