Beer Duty and Pubs: Update

Thank you for contacting me about beer duty.

As announced at the 2018 Autumn Budget, duties on beer, cider, and spirits have again been frozen. This year, the price of a typical pint of beer will be 2p lower than if prices had risen with inflation; the price of a pint of cider will be 1p lower; and the price of a bottle of Scotch whisky will be 30p lower. This follows the removal of the beer duty escalator in 2013 and the unprecedented cuts and freezes in beer duty since then, as well as the removal of the duty escalator for spirits, wine and cider in 2014.

The Government is continuing to look at ways to improve the system of alcohol taxation, to ensure it helps to tackle binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries. Decisions on further freezes in alcohol duties will be taken at this Autumn's Budget.

The Spring Budget 2017 also provided a £1,000 discount on business rates bills in 2017 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 – 90 per cent of pubs in England – and I was pleased to see this extended in the Autumn Budget 2017 for a further year, through to March 2019. In addition, a one-third discount to business rates for pubs and bars with a rateable values below £51,000 was introduced in 2018.

The numbers of small brewers have increased significantly in recent years, from just 400 in 2002 to around 2,000 at present. I recognise that small brewers’ relief has really helped the growth of the industry but that there are also some concerns about how the relief works hence the announcement at the Autumn Budget that the Government will review the current Small Breweries’ Relief to ensure it is supporting growth in the sector.

Through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, including pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell up, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding in order to try to save it. I am glad that there are now around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.

The £3.6 million project ‘More than a Pub: The Community Business Support Programme’, launched in 2016, is helping to support communities across England to own their local pub. On top of this, the Government continues to support the work of the Pub is The Hub initiative to help landlords diversify and provide essential services, such as village shops and post offices, in order to improve the sustainability of their pub.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

Updated September 2019