MP: Hammond must 'wake up and smell the coffee' on beer tax

A Shropshire Tory MP has told the Chancellor to 'wake up and smell the coffee' ahead of today's budget, warning that beer duties and business rates are killing the licensed trade.

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski with members of the town's licensed trade
Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski with members of the town's licensed trade

Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury, met pub licensees, brewers and members of the Campaign for Real Ale who told him that taxes were having a crippling effect on the industry.

Mr Kawczynski made the headlines in the summer when he challenged Chancellor Philip Hammond to join him on a pub crawl in Shrewsbury so he could see the impact of business rates on beer duties on the licensed trade.

Speaking at a meeting at the Albion Vaults pub in Castle Foregate, Mr Kawczynski said he would be 'appalled' if there was any increase on beer duty in the budget.

He said over the next few weeks he would be lobbying the chancellor for a better deal for the pub trade.

He added he would also be seeking a meeting with Jackie Parker, national chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale.

"I would be appalled if the Chancellor were to put up beer taxes in the budget, he is already over-taxing them," said Mr Kawczynski.

"He needs to wake up and smell the coffee, and realise that in the long-term he will get a lot more money for public funds with sensible levels of duty on beers and business rates," he said.

Chris Jones, licensee of the Albion Vaults said it was impossible for him to compete with the supermarkets.

"I can go down to Booker and buy a litre of vodka for £18.50, but if you go to Sainsbury's it's just £15."

He also said the excessive rateable value calculated for his property meant he was unable to provide Sky TV for his customers, because the broadcaster used rateable value to determine subscription charges.

"We get charged a premium on our rates because we are classed as in the town centre, and that's why the pub just a few yards down the road, the other side of the bridge, has Sky, but we can't afford it. They wanted £12,000 off us just because of where we are."

Chris Yeomans, of St Anne's Brewery based at Lea Cross, near Shrewsbury, said alcohol duties should reflect the nature of the drinks.

"Small beers are generally drunk in a social setting, there is not a binge-drinking culture around real ales. It is the shots, the alcopops or sambucas that lead to anti-social behaviour."

Dave Roll, of Shrewsbury and West Shropshire Camra, added: "The politicians do not appear to understand the difference between alcopops and strong lager and real ales. There should be different excise duties for different beers."

Mr Kawczynski said he planned to hold a follow-up meeting with the licensed trade in the near future.

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