The beer duty cut is “just the beginning” of the Government’s help for the “very important” beer industry, Chancellor George Osborne has said.
Mr Osborne made the promising comments during a visit to Marston’s Shobnall Road brewery in Burton – which brews the firm’s flagship brand Marston’s Pedigree – earlier this week.
The Chancellor attended a meeting chaired by Andrew Griffiths, Burton MP – who is also chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group – and other key figures from the beer and pub industry. According to the Burton Mail, big hitters at the meeting included Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay, Punch Taverns chairman Stephen Billingham, Spirit Pub Company chief executive Mike Tye and Society of Independent Brewers chairman Keith Bott.
According to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, Mr Osborne said: “The duty cut in the Budget is just the beginning of helping this industry.
“Of course it’s important in its own right – it’s not just the penny off, we also cancelled the beer escalator.
“But what I want to talk to the industry about now, and to Andrew Griffiths, is what we can do to help young people get employed in the industry, what we can do to support British agriculture, which is where it all starts [and] what we can do with the pub industry, which is where it ends, where the product is sold.
“I see it as an important step forward, what was announced in the Budget, but not the last word.”
But Mr Osborne would not be drawn on the possibility of a VAT cut for the industry when asked.
He said: “We just had a Budget, and I took the tax decisions on VAT as well as on duty that I thought were the right decisions and I’m not going to start writing the next Budget.
“I think we got the balance right on the Budget, and by specifically focusing on the beer industry, which had been under real pressure, we were able to get the most bang for our buck.”
When asked what convinced him to act on beer duty, Mr Osborne said: “I think what convinced me was the economic argument and the fact it was having an impact on jobs and pub closures. That is not what we want our tax system to be doing.
“These are difficult economic times and there’s not enough money to do all the things we’d like to do.
“So you have to make choices and I thought this was a very straightforward way to help a very important industry that employs a lot of people.”
Afterwards, Mr Griffiths tweeted about the Chancellor’s visit. He said:
George Osborne, the 1st Chancellor on the side of brewers & pubs since 1959 ow.ly/i/1P4wj
— Andrew Griffiths MP (@agriffithsmp) April 4, 2013
What do you think about the Chancellor’s comments? Is the beer duty cut really just the beginning? Let us know in the comments below.