UK: BBPA bemoans Chancellor’s duty snub

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The British Beer & Pub Association has branded the UK Chancellor’s autumn statement a “missed opportunity” after he ignored calls to review the alcohol duty escalator.

George Osborne announced a series of measures to help the UK’s struggling economy today (5 December) – including cancelling a planned fuel duty rise – but over-looked alcohol duty. Since 2008, under the Labour-introduced duty ‘escalator’, alcohol taxes have automatically increased at least 2% above inflation annually.

Despite a vote in Parliament last month backing a review of the escalator, Osborne was silent on the controversial mechanism.

“This is a missed opportunity – employment could be boosted by 5,000, this year alone, with a freeze in beer tax – mostly jobs for younger people in Britain’s pubs,” said BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds. “The Coalition should distance itself from the previous Government’s tax policy, and the Chancellor should now heed calls from MPs of all parties for a review.”

However, the BBPA welcomed the extension of small business rate relief to April 2014, which it said “will support pubs, as will other measures to support business”.