Thousands of pubs face closure if the chancellor presses ahead with a rise in beer duty in this month’s Budget, the industry has warned.
Britain’s Beer Alliance, made up of individual publicans and brewers, is urging drinkers to contact their MP.
A report estimates 6,000 pubs could go over the next five years, along with about 12,500 jobs.
The industry fears Philip Hammond will hike duty by 3.4% on 29 October, with future inflation-linked rises planned.
Launched alongside the Alliance’s warning on Friday is a report from Oxford Economics, which estimates that the pub and brewing sector accounts for 900,000 UK jobs, is worth £23bn to the economy and pays £13bn in taxes.
The Alliance says there are about 48,000 pubs in the UK, but about three are closing each day, and that a duty rise will make many more economically unviable. One in every three pounds spent in pubs already goes to the government.
‘Long live the local’
Beer duty was frozen in the Budget last autumn, but pressure on Treasury coffers has sparked worries that the industry will be targeted.
The BBA estimates that if the chancellor cuts duty by 2%, rather than increasing it by 3.4%, it would create a further 8,500 new jobs.
The last time beer duty rose year-on-year was between 2008 and 2013, when the government put an escalator policy in place.
The Alliance estimates that over the five years, there was a 24% fall in beer sales in pubs, 5,000 pubs closed and 58,000 people lost their jobs.
To drum up support for the pub sector, the industry has launched a “Long Live the Local” petition, which already has more than 80,000 signatures.
Pubs are affected more than supermarkets, the BBA said.
“Seven in ten of all alcoholic drinks are beer. It has a disproportionate impact for a pub verses a supermarket,” said David Cunningham, project director at Britain’s Beer Alliance.
It is not just about economic benefit, he said, but they also provide “public space” are important to local communities and can “breathe life” in to high streets at time of shop closures.