Stafford MP joins call for review of tax on beer

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A Staffordshire MP has backed calls for a review of the level of tax on beer.

The amount of duty on a pint has been cited as one of the reasons behind a number of pub closures across the region.

Jeremy Lefroy MP

Jeremy Lefroy MP

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy has now joined calls for the Government to scrap the beer tax escalator, which ensures prices rise by two per cent above the rate of inflation.

The issue was discussed in the House of Commons after an online petition gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

“The escalator has been causing prices to rise at an extremely high rate, particularly in pubs,” said Mr Lefroy.

“If the escalator was removed and beer taxed at a more reasonable level then people would obviously buy more beer in pubs.”

Mr Lefroy also suggested that concerns the Government would lose money if the escalator was removed were unfounded, as the tax collected from increased sales would compensate for it.

Keith Bott

Keith Bott

Local pubs and breweries are also pushing for a reduction in tax on beer to allow them to compete with supermarkets and chain bar companies.

Keith Bott, managing director of Burslem-based Titanic Brewery, said: “Even a freeze on current beer taxes would stop the flow of people going to the supermarket to buy alcohol and then drinking at home in an unsafe, unregulated environment.

“As one of the smaller breweries we have also benefitted hugely from the Small Breweries’ Relief scheme, which has allowed us to save and reopen six pubs since 2007.”

Mr Bott added that high levels of tax created an uneven playing field as supermarkets can afford to absorb tax rises, whereas pubs and small breweries are forced to increase their prices.

Research by real ale campaign group CAMRA claimed that one in five pub buildings in Stoke-on-Trent are currently derelict.

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