The government has confirmed that no announcement on alcohol duty reform will be made before the autumn.
Plans for alcohol duty reform were announced in the 2021 autumn Budget. A consultation was published which closed on 30th January.
“The delay to the alcohol duty reform is extremely disappointing and will come as a blow to pub and brewing businesses who have been waiting on an announcement since this year’s Spring Statement,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer andPub Association.
“We would urge any new government to keep these reforms on track to guarantee a reduced rate of draught beer duty, that helps Britain’s brewers and pubs and supports lower-strength products, as soon as possible.”
Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said: “With the beer and pubs sector continuing to be hit hard by rising prices, spiraling energy costs, and the knock-on effects of a dip in consumer confidence and spending, it is clear that our locals — and the great breweries and cider producers that serve them — need more help from the government if they are to survive and thrive in the coming months and years.
“That’s why introducing the new system of alcohol taxation designed to give pubs, social clubs, and taprooms support through a new preferential rate of duty charged on beer and cider served on draught, compared to the likes of supermarket alcohol, is so important.
“We were also expecting important details to be announced on the replacement for the small brewers relief scheme, meaning more uncertainty for small brewers feeling the burden of the cost of business crisis much more acutely than their globally-owned counterparts.”
He added: “CAMRA welcomed the government’s commitment to this new way of taxing beer and cider, but we are now calling on the Treasury to bring forward firm plans on how this will work in practice and announce when it will be introduced as quickly as possible, to give our pubs the helping hand they desperately need.
“In the meantime, through our Summer of Pub campaign, we are continuing to urge people to support their locals as much as possible, as well as calling on the government for extra support for pubs and breweries through a VAT cut for food and drink served in pubs, extending business rates relief, and offering businesses help with rising energy costs.”
Roy Allkin, chair of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), said: “Independent brewers have been waiting on tenterhooks for the next stages of the alcohol duty changes and are deeply disappointed that we’ll now have to wait until the autumn to know what the final reforms will look like.
“These changes include the draught duty rate that will provide a much-needed boost to community pubs and independent brewers by providing a duty discount on beer sold in pubs.
“This delay puts the government’s timetable for implementation at risk, leaving little time to consult on changes to legislation in the autumn. Many small and independent brewers have already made business decisions for next year that rely on these widespread changes to duty being introduced on time, and any delay will create further uncertainty.
“Small brewers and pubs have been left in limbo at a time when businesses need support as they have to deal with a multitude of supply constraints and the cost of living crisis. We call on the government to commit to achieving the changes in February next year and ensuring that community pubs and independent brewers will be able to benefit from the new draught duty rate as soon as possible.”