Brew News / Features

1p cut is “farcical” – Your opinion on the beer tax axe

After months of campaigning, the pint drinking public finally got what they wanted as the duty escalator was dumped by Osborne’s Budget. However, questions remain over whether this is enough to save ailing pubs. We went on to the official CAMRA Facebook page (link) to see what pub owners and patrons across the country thought about the move.

The reduction is “farcical”

Chris Harris, landlord of ‘The Bush’ in Cwmbran, Wales, said: “The 1p reduction in duty is farcical. We have a pot of pennies on the bar and we give one to everyone who buys a pint of beer. They almost invariably put it in the charity tin next to it. 1p on a thousand pints won’t make or break us and by the time that threshold comes we may have got around to increasing our prices due to the recent brewery hike in prices. Removal of the beer escalator is good long term, but the increase in tax on other drinks is hardly consistent if the government is really supporting pubs, they are just giving in to pressure!

“Even if the drinker doesn’t see the return, pubs will”

Joe Wright, a beer lover, said: “As a drinker my main concerns aren’t just the cost of a pint, but the verity of beers and establishments on offer for me to visit. (Not to mention my local pub, which throughout the years has face several periods closed due to poor profitability.) If my pint doesn’t get any more expensive, but my landlord earns slightly more allowing the pub to stay open for me to drink in, I’m happy! That said, if I do see the cost of a pint fall, assuming I drink 20 pints a week the ‘insignificant’ 1p reduction saves me over £100 in a year! Either way its some good news, and much better than the escalator we had been expecting!

It means “nothing”

Dale Knight, landlord of the Black Horse pub in Bristol, said: “The 1p reduction means nothing! Pubco’s put their prices up the month before. Most lease holders carry that burden for a month and wait until the annual rise at the budget and put up prices once. This year when customers were expecting a 1p reduction they got a 5p rise”.

I raised my prices as soon as I got them, so when the price reduction came in I could pass it on. Scraping the escalator is only the start. The Government now needs to finish the job. I would love to be able to buy local real ales and sell them for a lot less then I do now, but to do that I need to be given a free of tie option.”

‘Good start, but we need more reform’

Andrew Heyes, a pint enthusiast originally from Texas, USA, said: “I disagree and think it is better than the hideous escalator staying. But it isn’t enough on its own and we need proper regulation and to let our licensees buy Free of Tie (campaign link) and then we too will get more choice as customers on local real ale and our pub landlords can start to make a living”

“Most problems seem to be blamed on a single issue, and the price of beer appears to be one of them”

Peter Lodge, from Wigan, said: “Ok, so the beer escalator has gone, so that’s one result, but to hear some people talk, this was the sole cause of the high price of beer. Add to this:

– All the other taxes,
– The fixed costs of running a pub building,
– Discounts available to some pubs but not others (they’re not really discounts; it’s just all the normal prices are inflated)
– Large corporations ‘need’ to make more profit than last year,
– Unfair practices (ties forcing the purchase from a specific source),
– Supermarkets using beer as loss leaders
– Transit vans nipping over the channel and filling it up with beer 3 times a day (for personal use of course),
– Too many pubs becoming one dimensional (large TVs and other noise),
– Other forms of entertainment which are now competing with pubs.

Nothing can be done about the last one, but all the other issues need addressing. Only when we have further successes in these areas, will we be able to start making a serious impact on saving pubs, and allow them to compete on an equal footing with the alternative forms of entertainment.

Landlords take prices into their own hands

Ants Woolnough, of Colchester, said: “Our local has decided not to give the reduction on beer but used the saving not to put other alcohol up! So real ale drinkers gain nothing.”

To find out more about Pubcos and the Tie, visit this site.

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