UK: Beer and pub industry launches manifesto to save pubs
Published:  27 November, 2009

UK: The beer and pub industry has set out a manifesto to support public calls for action to save the British pub.

The manifesto includes calls for a reduced duty rate on lower strength beers and greater support for pubs serving food.  

The document wass published as a new opinion poll shows a large majority of the public believe that tax on beer is too high (71 per cent) and that the record pub closure rate of 50 a week is undermining an important part of Britain’s social and community fabric (79 per cent).

The poll also demonstrated that seven out of 10 people believe that more needs to be done to support and promote the pub.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) have launched a new campaign – “I’m backing the pub” – calling on consumers, publicans, politicians and all who value the British beer and the British pub to sign up in support.

The manifesto, called “The life and soul of Britain’s communities”, calls on the Government to reverse the 8 per cent increase in duty on beer imposed at the time of the VAT cut last January when VAT returns to its 17.5 per cent rate on 1 January 2010, and to scrap plans to increase duty by 2 per cent above inflation in the Budget in March next year.

The other main findings of the opinion poll carried out by ComRes last weekend are:

  • 80 per cent of all people think that the pub is an important symbol of the British way of life
  • 71 per cent of people think that more needs to be done to support and promote the British pub.
  • 77 per cent think that pubs in Britain make a valuable contribution to the economy
  • 74 per cent of all people think that the planned increase in the tax on beer and pubs next March is not justified.
  • 67 per cent of all people agree that Government policy should encourage people to choose lower strength alcohol drinks like beer, and 74 per cent support a policy of lower taxation for lower strength drinks like beer.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “There is a clear and compelling public consensus amongst the British people that the pub is a vital part of their community and the social and economic character of Britain. This is coupled with deep concern at the record number of pub closures we are witnessing today and a resounding call for action to support the British pub.

“It is time for a concerted effort by government, industry and all those who value the pub to work together to adopt and implement policies to promote the great British pub.

“The manifesto we are publishing today sets out a range of policies which could make a real difference.  We are therefore calling on all – including politicians and political parties - to back this agenda and to pledge their support for our ‘I’m backing the pub’ campaign.”

Julian Grocock, chief executive of SIBA, said: “Pubs are an integral part of Britain's rich culture, our national heritage, and the life of our communities. Reducing duty on a low strength drink like beer would be a good start in helping to promote a unique British product, supporting a unique British institution, and launching an effective strategy to encourage responsible drinking in controlled and convivial surroundings."

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