‘This is a huge blow to Britain’s world class brewing industry that has been devastated in the last week’ – Emma Mc Clarkin, British Beer and Pub Association
In the face of extensive UK pub, bar, and restaurant closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak chose not to cancel a March 25 tax…a tax that could spell the end of many alcohol related businesses in the United Kingdom.
In the days running up to Sunak’s decision, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) had lobbied intensely against the taxation.
“Brewers had been calling on the Chancellor to cancel the payment in the face of huge sales drops following social distancing measures, including pub, bar, and restaurant closures” according to Beer Today “and as of last night the closing of take-away sales for beer businesses.”
And SIBA chief executive, James Calder did hide his disappointment over the HMRC’s (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the UK’s tax collection arm) lack of action…
“SIBA has been calling for the cancellation of beer duty for over a week and it is incredibly disappointing that the Chancellor has decided not to act. There will be brewers tomorrow who will have thousands of pounds direct debited from their accounts by HMRC. This is a huge blow for the UK’s small independent brewers.”
SIBA says that on average the small brewer will be landed with a beer duty bill of around £5,000, with larger independent breweries in the UK debited as much as £500,000.
CAMRA chairman, Nick Antona, was equally incensed by Sunak’s decision…
“CAMRA is disappointed to hear that the Chancellor has decided not to cancel beer duty in light of the current COVID situation. This could have meant the difference between many hundreds of independent breweries standing a chance of surviving this crisis, or closing their operations permanently and never re-opening.”
Emma Mc Clarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association sees the HMRC’s lack of action as a possible death blow for many UK craft brewers…
“Cancelling the duty payment due on March 25th would have freed up cash for many hard-squeezed pub and brewing businesses, helping them get through this difficult period whilst saving jobs.”
“The decision not to act on duty is extremely disappointing. Make no mistake, this is a huge blow to Britain’s world class brewing industry that has been devastated in the last week.”