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An urgent review of the government's duty rise on beer is being sought by Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff because of its likely impact on smaller pubs.

His action follows a letter from Jim Wonders of the Cannon Royall Brewery at the Fruiterers' Arms, Uphampton, near Ombersley.

In his letter, Mr Wonders describes the recent duty rise as tax on small brewers and Peter agrees. He says,

"The competitive pressure from supermarkets and the decline in beer sales means small brewers in particular cannot afford to pass on the price increase. I campaigned for a progressive beer duty to help smaller brewers and the government introduced one. Now they are applying an across-the-board increase with no thought for the consequences.

"We should be helping the small, responsible brewers and local pubs not penalising them. Why beer was one of the products singled out as not being able to benefit from the modest reduction in VAT I do not know, but I do know that having killed off 2,500 post offices , the government now seems determined to do the same thing for local pubs.

"I am writing to the Chancellor urging him to think again as a matter of the utmost urgency."

In his Pre-Budget Report, Alistair Darling announced there would be an eight per cent rise in the tax, meaning duty has now risen 17 per cent this year. Brewers and publicans have warned that their costs could soar and said the price of a pint will go up.

Leading industry figures have rallied against Mr Darling. Julian Grocock, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers, said,

"It's entirely predictable. The Chancellor instantaneously balanced the VAT cut by the increase in duty. He obviously thinks it's worthwhile to reduce VAT to stimulate the economy and help small businesses in every area except for fuel, tobacco and alcohol. Effectively he has taken no action whatsoever for our benefit.

"All this trumpeting about doing something to help small businesses - why is the brewing industry not included? We're just as much in need of stimulus as everyone else."

Mike Benner, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said,

"The Chancellor's refusal to allow beer drinkers to benefit from a VAT reduction means that 7,500 pubs could close by the end of 2012. The Government's failure to support pubs will undermine community life, ruin livelihoods and deprive people of an affordable night out at a local pub."


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