Comment: Lower draught duty rate needs amendment

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National CAMRA chairman, Nik Antona, comments on the way forward following the Chancellor’s Budget speech yesterday.

Nik Antona CAMRA

The chancellor has listened to thousands of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) members who have long called for a change in the way alcohol is taxed.

A new, lower rate of duty for draught beer and cider served in pubs and clubs establishes an important principle in the taxation system. That pubs are a force for good in our communities and should be supported to help them survive and compete with the likes of supermarkets. 

Our task, before this new duty rate is implemented in 2023, is to make sure that the new, lower draught duty rate applies to beer and cider served in smaller containers, too, so that as many pubs, breweries, and consumers as possible can benefit. We will be using the government’s consultation on how this new system should operate in practice to make this case. 

cask ale outside

In the meantime, measures like duty freezes and a 50% cut in business rates in England for another year will be welcomed. Our pubs and breweries are still recovering from the pandemic, face rising bills and costs, and will continue to need as much support as they can get so they can rebuild their businesses and thrive in the years to come. 

Cutting tax for lower-ABV drinks will incentivise lower-strength alcoholic drinks, whilst new financial support for smaller producers — including cider producers — and continuing discussions around a 50% minimum juice content are encouraging news for both cider makers and consumers.

These measures should help to improve quality and choice at the bar. CAMRA will continue to engage with the government on the planned reforms to small brewers’ relief and call for a solution that doesn’t require some of the smallest breweries to have to pay more tax.