I have experience of running a pub before I became an MP and am aware of the important role pubs play in our communities. I have also been pleased to be able to support local pubs in their efforts to become community pubs, including the Hare and Hounds at Harlton and The Three Tuns in Guilden Morden.
Decisions on future beer duty will be made by the Treasury in the lead up to this year’s Budget towards the end of this year. In last year’s Budget, duties on beer, cider and spirits were again frozen. This year, the price of a typical pint of beer will be 2p lower than if prices had risen with inflation; the price of a pint of cider will be 1p lower; and the price of a bottle of Scotch whisky will be 30p lower. This follows the removal of the beer duty escalator in 2013 and during a recent debate on beer taxation in the House, the Minister said:
“With respect to beer duty, we have taken a number of steps over the past nine years to improve the situation in a country that has been widely acknowledged to have high levels of alcohol taxation. We removed the beer escalator, and we have either cut or frozen beer duty in six of the last seven fiscal events, so that the duty on a pint is lower now than it was in 2012. In real terms, this long-term and significant action by the Government has kept prices low for everyone, in contrast to the period from 1997 to 2010, during which beer duty increased by 60%. This was underlined at the most recent Budget with another freeze on beer duty, meaning that the price of a typical pint of beer is now 2p lower than if prices had risen with inflation. I appreciate that there is always more that we could do this respect.”
I am pleased that over a number of years the Government has supported the brewing industry and local pubs. I know that the Government continues to look at ways to improve the system of alcohol taxation, to ensure it helps to tackle binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries – I support that.
I am pleased that the £3.6 million ‘More than a Pub: The Community Business Support Programme’, is helping to support communities across England to own their local pub, including here in South Cambridgeshire. In addition, the Government introduced the Pub is The Hub initiative to help landlords diversify and provide essential services, such as village shops and post offices, in order to improve the sustainability of their pub and this is another worthwhile scheme.