Beer taxes frozen

But U.K. beer drinkers still face higher prices

Mar 9, 2001 - Great Britain's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was not impressed by a mid-week promise by Chancellor Gordon Brown to freeze taxes on beer in wine in 2001, and today's news that beer prices are headed also doesn't set well with drinkers.


"Because of the competitive position of the industry, I will this year continue to freeze duty on whisky and on all spirits," Brown said in offering his budget for 2001. "And this year I propose to go further and freeze duty on wine and on beer."

"Although it's preferable to an increase, this freeze will do nothing to reduce smuggling of cheap Euro fizz which is being sold on to whoever has the cash, including children," said Mike Benner, Head of Campaigns and Communications. "Mr. Brown has offered no support for the 900,000 British jobs supported by the beer and pubs industry. Millions of pints will continue to flood our shores and hundreds of British jobs will continue being exported to France."

The United Kingdom has one of the highest excise taxes on beer in the European Union. Estimates are than more than one million pints a day arebeing smuggled into Britain by increasingly organised criminal gangs.

CAMRA called for a duty cut of 2 pence per in this budget, contending that would have been enough to significantly reduce the bootleggers' profit and make smuggling less desirable.

The Licensee and Morning Advertiser reported Friday that 10p-a-pint increases are on the way. Brewers have raised retail prices by a few pence each, but once the cost is passed on to consumers it could be more.

Bass - which makes Carling lager and bitters - is to increase the prices of its drinks by 2.8% from 25 March. Carlsberg-Tetley - which makes Carlsberg and Castlemaine lagers and Tetley bitters, has also announced price increases to take place next week.

CAMRA Spokesman Tony Jerome said: "We'd like to see duty coming down too, but when the brewers up their prices in the week of the Budget it amounts to a slap in the face for Gordon Brown."

Mark Hastings, of the Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association, said there was nothing unusual in the price rises. "This is the annual round of price increases and they are actually relatively modest," he said.

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