A WIGAN brewery chief warned today that tax has left the industry in a “critical” condition.
Bosses at the multi award winning All Gates based in the town centre say that the controversial beer duty escalator - which has increased by 42 per cent (or 20p per pint) since its introduction - is reaching an unsustainable level.
Allgates managing director, David Mayhall, has chosen to speak out ahead of the Parliamentary debate about the industry’s future set for Thursday triggered by the success of an on-line petition supported by an army of 100,000 drinkers.
He has already had a pledge of support from real ale supporter Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.
Ms Nandy said: “The Coalition Government’s shambolic economic plans are causing pub closures, falling sales and job losses in Wigan and across the country.
“In such difficult times business needs support and stability in order to invest and create growth and jobs.
“That’s one reason why the next Labour Government has promised immediate VAT relief, and we will be pressing the Coalition on these points in next week’s Parliamentary debate.”
All Gates now has six pubs across the borough and into Cheshire as well as their Good Beer Guide flagship The Anvil in Dorning Street.
The brewery behind Wigan post office, makes 10,000 pints a week of distinctive bitter, stout and pale ales and employ 60 full and part time staff.
Mr Mayhall pointed out that since the start of the “unbalanced and ill thought out” beer duty escalator, beer sales in pubs and clubs have fallen by 23 per cent and more than 6,000 pubs have closed including many in Wigan. Beer taxation now costs the average pub around £66,000 per year.
He said that data released in the British Beer and Pub Association’s (BBPA) latest UK quarterly ‘beer barometer’ show that beer sales fell by 5.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, putting further jobs in the brewing and pub sector at risk.
Sales of beer in pubs fell by 4.8 per cent which was the equivalent to 51m fewer pints than in 2011 - while supermarkets and off-license sales were down by 6.5 per cent.
And according to analysis by Oxford Economics carried out for the BBPA, the five per cent rise in beer duty in the March’s Budget will not raise any money for the Government because the £92m in extra revenues will be offset by the loss in employment and other taxes caused by the resulting 5,000 redundancies.
Mr Mayhall said: “While excessive taxation on beer is a national issue, it is also having a profound effect here in Wigan. For example only a few weeks ago the well known Griffin pub in Wigan Lane closed its doors, probably for the final time.
“The Society of Independent Brewers, to which All Gates Brewery Limited belongs, is naturally supportive of this campaign and as the only industry organisation to represent only brewers, we are shocked by the current iniquity in alcohol taxation. How can it be right that the largest, global cidermaker pays less in duty than the smallest UK microbrewer?”