Brewery bosses in the Midlands have called on the Government to freeze or cut beer duty in this year’s Budget.
Brewers at large and small companies have said the economic importance of the industry means it is worthy of a freeze in the tax on beers.
The managing director at Wolverhampton-based Marstons has called for a freeze in beer duty, while Alan Preece, from Green Duck Brewery in Stourbridge, said he would like them to go one step further and cut for the second year running.
Last year, George Osborne axed the proposed 3p rise and cut the duty by 1p, which delighted landlords and breweries across the country.
Mr Preece said: “I would rather see it cut again. The beer duty is a killer. It affects pubs and if they are affected then we are.
“It’s really high and it makes the price of a pint look expensive. People will usually think that it is the landlord’s fault or the brewer but a a massive chunk of it is beer duty.
“I don’t think beer duty would ever lead to us having to cut down on staff but it does have a big effect on us and pubs.”
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has called on the Government to freeze the duty, and Richard Westwood, managing director for Marston’s, agrees.
He said: “Last year the industry achieved a remarkable feat to stop beer tax killing beer and pubs. The scrapping of the beer duty escalator, however, was just the first hurdle.
“A long term freeze in beer duty would ensure the continuing growth of the brewing industry and certainly help many pubs across the country.”
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Beer and pubs provide huge numbers of local jobs, especially for young people.
“Last year’s duty cut made a real difference, saving jobs across the country, boosting investment and increasing confidence.”
The West Midlands employs more than 12,000 people in pubs and at breweries, and pays out more than £130 million in wages, as well as having a revenue of almost £700 million.
Austin Morgan, from Backyard Brewery in Brownhills, said: “It’s not an immediate tax because the people who drink in pubs don’t just stop going. Say for instance they drink 10 pints a week. They probably won’t notice it straight away but after a month or six weeks they will.
“The people don’t just stop drinking but they will slow down a little.
“You do start to notice that the volume going out the door drops a little.
“But when you have pubs closing at the rate they are, the beer duty doesn’t really make a difference. The amount of money made by the Government through the duty is nothing compared to the amount they would save if pubs stayed open.”