The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) hopes to work with the Government to secure a change in EU rules to allow a lower duty rate on beers below 3.5% abv.
The Government is committed to reducing duty on beers below 2.8% abv in the March Budget but EU rules currently restrict that rate being extended.
CAMRA has welcomed the move but “would like the 2.8% threshold increased to around 3.5% abv and hopes that the UK Government will work with CAMRA and the wider industry to secure a change in EU rules to make this possible”.
However, CAMRA voiced its opposition to plans to increase duty on beers above 7.5%. The Government’s aim is to increase the price of super strength lagers, such as Carlsberg Special Brew, but CAMRA said it would also hit craft beers not associated with binge drinking.
“This could discourage production of higher strength Belgian style beers and vintage British ale styles,” it said in its Budget submission to the Treasury.
The Group repeated its call for an end to the 2% above inflation duty escalator and called for a “long term freeze” on beer duty.
It highlighted that the Labour Government increased duty on beer by 60%, compared to a 25% increase on spirits — leading to “cheap spirits becoming ever more affordable compared to beer”.
It told the Treasury that beer directly supports 400,000 jobs and generates over ?7bn in tax revenue. “Beer is also vitally important to the survival of pubs and therefore the wellbeing of communities and individuals,” it said.
“The jobs, tax revenue and social benefits of beer are under threat due to unprecedented increases in beer tax.”