Beer Duty Escalator
Email Campaign

As someone who is passionate about the British pub, I share your concern about the beer duty escalator. The problem is that, even if we could afford to cut projected tax increases (which our continuing deficit really means we can’t) it is not everyone’s highest priority. I think a majority of my constituents would prefer to see an end to the fuel duty escalator, that’s why I know cutting and freezing fuel duty - now 10p lower than it would have been under Labour – is a popular decision. I also receive a large number of representations about air passenger duty.

Of course, all taxes are too high, but I also support the priority the Coalition has given to relieving the least well paid from the burden of income tax. The Government will have increased the personal allowance from £6,475 in 2010 to £9,440 by April 2013. This is a tax cut of £593 for over 24 million taxpayers since the General Election. Altogether, we will have taken 2.2 million people on the lowest incomes out of income tax altogether. And people working full time on the minimum wage will have had their income tax bill cut in half. On top of that Council tax has been frozen for two years – with funding for a third year; locally all our councils and other public bodes area freezing the tax for that third year. The compounded saving of both years’ freeze is worth up to £148 - and more in the third year.

There are, though, a number of continuing campaigns on beer duty, and I am pleased that the Government has taken a number of positive measures to help the industry. These measures include cutting red tape for live music, doubling small business rate relief, bringing in a community ‘right to buy’ scheme to save struggling establishments and introducing a minimum unit price to stop shops selling alcohol for less than this set price per unit alongside wider measures to help businesses such as cutting corporation tax.

However, the revenue from beer duty makes an important contribution to the public finances and the country simply cannot afford to ignore the huge budget deficit we inherited from the previous Labour Government. Progress has been made and the deficit has been cut by 25 per cent since the Government came to power, but unfortunately difficult decisions still need to be taken.

I have no wish to appear partisan on an issue of such importance to you, but all rises in beer duty taking place now were actually put in place by the last Government. The current Government inherited the largest deficit in the G20 and we spend over £120 million every day on debt interest payments alone. This is clearly unsustainable and tough decisions are unavoidable. The revenues from alcohol excise duty make an important contribution to reducing the deficit. But where we can take action we have – which is why we have reversed Labour’s damaging 10 per cent above inflation increase on cider tax.

In this case, and with some sadness, I believe that ministers have set the right priorities and are doing all they can, within the constraints of the nation’s finances, to help the pub industry.


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