Beer duty rise ‘will hit re­gion’s pubs hard’

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Active - BY KATE LALLY kate.lally@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @kate­lal­lyx

THE pub in­dus­try in Sefton, worth tens of mil­lions of pounds, could take a hit if beer duty is raised as ex­pected next week, Bri­tain’s Beer Al­liance has warned.

Tax on beer is ex­pected to rise by 3.4% in the Chan­cel­lor’s Au­tumn Bud­get, which will be de­liv­ered on Tues­day.

With con­sumers in­creas­ingly opt­ing for cheaper su­per­mar­ket drinks and pub mar­gins stretched, lo­cal es­tab­lish­ments are brac­ing them- selves for fur­ther strug­gles.

Sefton’s 164 pubs and bars em­ploy 2,665 peo­ple di­rectly, pay­ing them £21m in wages, new anal­y­sis from Ox­ford Eco­nom­ics shows.

They also sup­port a fur­ther 701 jobs and £13m in wages in­di­rectly, ei­ther through re­lated jobs, like those in the sup­ply chain, or through the money spent by peo­ple work­ing in the pub in­dus­try.

In to­tal, through salaries and spend­ing power, the area’s pubs con­trib­ute £66m to the lo­cal and na­tional econ­omy, anal­y­sis shows.

There are 5,636 pubs in the North West as a whole, ad­ding £2bn to the econ­omy.

But through­out the the UK, 3.2 pubs have closed on av­er­age ev­ery day over the past two years. the

If that trend con­tin­ues, Bri­tain’s Beer Al­liance, an um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion for ma­jor brew­ers and pub com­pa­nies, says that one in 10 pubs na­tion­wide could close within five years.

It would mean a sig­nif­i­cant loss to the es­ti­mated £18bn pub in­dus­try, which sup­ports about 800,000 jobs in the coun­try.

A sur­vey con­ducted by the or­gan­i­sa­tion shows that more than a third of peo­ple would re­con­sider a trip to the pub if beer prices in­creased.

It also showed that a de­crease in the num­ber of pubs could cause more than just fi­nan­cial loss, with 77% say­ing that they go to the pub as a place to re­lax and un­wind, and two in five say­ing that it acts a so­cial hub.

David Cun­ning­ham, pro­gramme di­rec­tor of Bri­tain’s Beer Al­liance, said: “Pubs are the heart and soul of our cul­ture and com­mu­ni­ties, they sup­port many jobs, con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to the econ­omy and are dear to peo­ple’s hearts right across the coun­try.

“Pubs al­ready face a range of tax pres­sures and if the Chan­cel­lor raises beer duty in line with Re­tail Price In­dex in­fla­tion as planned on Oc­to­ber 29, pubs will feel the pinch even more.

“Seven in ev­ery 10 al­co­holic drinks sold in a pub is beer, so it’s easy to see how a small tax in­crease adds up over a year.

“Based on cur­rent clo­sure rates, we es­ti­mate that within five years more than one in 10 pubs in the UK will have closed for good, cost­ing thou­sands of jobs.

“This will have a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on com­mu­ni­ties up and down the UK.”

There are six brew­eries in Sefton, sup­port­ing 104 jobs and ad­ding £2.2m to the econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to the Ox­ford Eco­nom­ics anal­y­sis.

That means that al­to­gether, the lo­cal pub, brew­ery and beer trade in Sefton adds £76m to the econ­omy each year, it says.

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