Brewers welcome ‘penny off a pint’

Julian Smith MP with the special Theakston's barrel and (left to right) Jonathan Mail of CAMRA, Keith Bott of the Society of Independent Brewers and Brigid Simmonds of the British Beer and Pub Association. (S)
Julian Smith MP with the special Theakston's barrel and (left to right) Jonathan Mail of CAMRA, Keith Bott of the Society of Independent Brewers and Brigid Simmonds of the British Beer and Pub Association. (S)

Breweries near Ripon have expressed their delight at the Chancellor’s Budget, as the “loathed” 3p rise in beer duty was scrapped and replaced by a 1p cut in the price of a pint.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne dropped controversial plans to introduce an alcohol duty escalator on beer – which would add inflation plus 2 per cent to the price of a pint – in his Budget 2013 statement on March 21.

Executive director of T&R Theakston Ltd in Masham, Simon Theakston, said he was “absolutely delighted” with the news. “I never thought I would see the day when I would be actually pleased by a Chancellor’s announcement over beer duty,” he said. “Cutting the beer tax will enable the industry to step up investment in Britain’s pubs and help generate new jobs.”

Mr Theakston – who runs the brewery with his three brothers – added the abolition of the “loathed” escalator tax will also help support the industry. “I shall be celebrating with a pint of Yorkshire’s finest,” he said.

Melmerby brewery Hambleton Ales is also celebrating the Chancellor’s announcement. Owner Nick Stafford said: “A pint of beer in the pub should be an affordable pleasure rather than an occasional treat and by cutting duty the Government is ensuring draught beer remains Britain’s favourite tipple.”

But not everyone in the drinks industry was raising a glass to the news. Finance and operations director of Bon Coeur wines in Masham Samantha Goodhart said: “Wine is set to escalate until 2015 and from our point of view if a customer buys a £6 bottle of wine, 50 per cent of the money is going to the Government – which is outrageous. The 1p off a pint of beer will not make much of a difference and was a PR stunt by the Government. But 10p on a bottle of wine will make a big difference.”

Ripon MP Julian Smith joined calls for Mr Osborne to support brewers when visiting Masham last month, where Theakston cooper Jonathan Manby made a special cask to help send the message to Westminster.

“The brewing and pub industry is hugely important in Ripon,” said Mr Smith.