Beer duty drop welcomed in Derbyshire
AS far as Derbyshire's pub and brewing industry is concerned, the penny finally dropped with George Osborne.
Before his Budget speech, there was much speculation about whether he might scrap the controversial duty escalator – the so-called "beer tax", which automatically puts an annual 2% above inflation increase on a pint.
The escalator will remain for wine, cider and spirits. But to the delight of campaigners, beer will be exempt – meaning that a 3p rise in beer duty in April has been cancelled. But Mr Osborne went a step further as beer duty received a surprise 1p cut from Sunday.
The tax cut has been welcomed by pubs and brewers, as well as organisers of Ashbourne Beer Festival taking place this weekend.
Simon Cox, UK and Ireland managing director at Burton brewing giant Molson Coors, said: "This cut in beer duty is a very welcome move to help get a great British industry back into growth.
"We are pleased the Chancellor has listened to beer drinkers and we are grateful to our local MP, Andrew Griffiths, for his tireless efforts to champion beer."
George Lambert, head brewer at Wentwell Brewery, Chaddesden, said: "The penny drop was a nice surprise. It is very timely. Due to the bad weather, the price of grain has increased, which has really put brewers under pressure."
Rachel Matthews, head brewer and owner of the Dancing Duck Brewery, which runs The Exeter Arms and The New Zealand pubs, in Derby, said: "It's fantastic. Since 2008, the price of a pint has gone up 42%. The Government has finally realised that this was a self-defeating tax because it was preventing people buying beer.
"But to make a difference, people need to start going to the pub again."
Andy Slee, of Burton-based pub company Punch Taverns, said: "Customers will be raising a glass to the Chancellor. He has delivered a welcome break for pub landlords. But that good work could be undone if the Government presses ahead with more bureaucracy and legislation on a hard-pressed pub sector."