UK: MPs say no to beer tax increase

15 April, 2009

UK: Nearly 60% of all MPs oppose the Chancellor’s plan to increase beer tax in next week’s budget.

UK: Nearly 60% of all MPs oppose the Chancellor’s plan to increase beer tax in next week’s budget.

A poll by research company ComRes showed that 59% of all MPs oppose Chancellor’s plans to increase Beer Tax in next week’s Budget. 41% of all Labour Backbench MPs oppose Beer Tax increase and 61% of MPs want Government action to support the pub as part of local communities.

According to the poll, Chancellor Alistair Darling will be defying the majority of MPs if he goes ahead with tax rises on beer in next week’s budget.

The poll of MPs was released today (15 April) a week ahead of the budget, by the ‘Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Pub’ campaign, which is spearheaded by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. According to the BBPA, pubs are closing at a record rate of nearly six a day.

More than 202 MPs, including 97 Labour backbenchers, have already signed a Parliamentary Motion (EDM 10) supporting the campaign after 25,000 members of the public emailed their MP. Jonathan Neame, chief executive of brewer Shepherd Neame, said: “Our message to the Chancellor is – don’t kick this great traditional industry when it is down. When the facts change, change your mind. And rarely have the economic facts changed so fast.”

Mike Benner, chief executive of CAMRA, said: “It is clear that the majority of MPs are in the same place as the majority of consumers – they don’t want further damage done to pubs by further tax increases.

“We are not asking for special favours, only for a reprieve from an unnecessary and unjustifiable tax rise.
“The Chancellor needs to recognise the scale of the threat to the traditional pub as more and more close with every month of recession.”

The poll by ComRes shows that MPs agree by a margin of 6-1 that the government should take action to support the British pub as a vital part of social life in communities.

Dr Richard Muir, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, and author of a recent study of community pubs, ‘The Social Value of Community Pubs’, said: “MPs realise that pubs are more than businesses, they have an important role to play in communities.  The government should not under-estimate the value of what is lost to community life when the local pub closes.”

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