Pubs' plea to Osborne for a freeze on beer tax
Pressure is mounting on Chancellor George Osborne to call time on automatic annual hikes in beer duty which are blamed for sending a dozen Westcountry pubs to the wall each month.
Campaigners from the region will today deliver a "message in a barrel" to Treasury officials demanding an end to the Government's beer duty escalator, which lumps around 10p on the average pint every year.
MPs, real ale campaigners, small breweries, the pub and landlord industry body and the TaxPayers' Alliance have all united in opposition to the inflation-busting tax rise.
The measure – introduced by Labour chancellor Alistair Darling – adds 2% on top of the headline rate and has increased pump prices by 40% since in 2008, accounting for two-thirds of the price of a pint, opponents claim.
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John Lawton, owner of the Teignworthy Brewery, Devon, who plans to join the Whitehall delegation, said 6,000 pubs had closed nationwide since its introduction.
He estimates "two to three" pubs each week in Devon and Cornwall are forced to shut, a claim highlighted by the recent closure of Dartmoor's historic Drewe Arms.
"Our beer tax is the highest in Europe – it is continuing to rise and pubs are continuing to close," he added.
TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair said Coalition MPs had been "quick to decry" the measure in opposition and needed to act now.