Thousands of jobs will be lost unless the government halts plans for a "punitive" tax rise on beer, industry leaders warned today.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said 16,000 jobs will be axed by 2015 under the beer duty "escalator", which will see taxes jump by over 5% in next month's Budget.
The association said duty and VAT have reached an "eye watering" £1.05 per pint, 12 times the level in Germany, leading to a fall in beer sales and the closure of 16 pubs a week.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "We are facing a further, punitive tax rise of over 5% in the Budget, so action is needed now.
"We need policies that support pubs, and to put an end to these totally unsustainable tax rises.
"We need a tax policy that creates vital jobs for young people, at a time when this should be the government's top priority."
A Treasury spokesman said: "At a time when tackling the deficit is a priority, alcohol duty makes an important contribution to the public finances
"At the last Budget, the government did not change alcohol duty beyond what was pre-announced in 2008.
"The government values the economic contribution of pubs and has introduced a range of tax measures that will help the alcohol industry, and pubs in particular.
"Cutting employers' National Insurance contributions will make it cheaper for pubs to employ people with incomes of less than £21,000.
"The industry will also benefit from the reductions in corporation tax, fuel duty cut and extension of the small business rates relief holiday."