Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Pub group calls for lower beer tax

Beer pumps
Pubs have been struggling during the downturn

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called on the UK government to scrap its plans to raise beer taxes and save 7,500 jobs in the process.

Beer tax is due to increase by 2% above inflation in the Budget in March, and has risen by 20% since 2008, according to the BBPA.

Beer "should be taxed at a lower rate to reflect its low-strength, UK-produced product status", it said.

Bars and pubs have been hit hard during the downturn.

According to Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), 40 pubs each week are being forced to close.

At the height of the recession, 52 pubs were closing every week.

Brigid Simmons, the BBPA's chief executive, said it was time for the government to "recognise the social, community and economic value of a low strength drink like beer and social drinking in pubs".

"Beer is an iconic British drink, yet the impact of blunt duty increases has further hit our ability to generate economic activity to help pull Britain out of recession."

A spokesperson for the Treasury said that alcohol duties were kept under review but that "they are an important contributor to the public finances".

"The increase announced at the last Budget means there will be more alcohol duty to support public services."

Members of Parliament will debate the future of the pub industry later.

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