23/10/2012 02:02 BST | Updated 23/10/2012 02:05 BST

MPs Call For Debate On Beer Tax

All Party Parliamentary Beer Group chairman Andrew Griffiths MP will call for a full Parliamentary debate on the impact of beer taxes, following a petition signed by over 100,000 people which demanded government action on the issue.

Griffiths and Greg Mulholland MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, will talk to the back bench business committee on 23 October to apply to have the issue debated in the House of Commons.

If they are successful, a debate could be expected within the next few weeks.

The request to the business back bench was sparked after the beer duty escalator (introduced by the Labour government four years ago) saw tax on beer rise by 42%.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has blamed the increased taxes for the 5.6% reduction in the past three months, and said there was now an urgent need to freeze the beer duty escalator.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, told Press Association: "If the government wants to encourage growth, back British business and support local communities, then it must end the beer duty escalator.

"The chancellor must listen to the thousands of people now calling for a change, so the sector can grow, create jobs and contribute more to UK plc."

Around 117 million fewer pints were drunk in the quarter to September compared with the same period a year ago, despite the benefits of the Olympics and Euro 2012 football championship, according to the BPPA.

Sales of beer in pubs fell by 4.8% in the latest quarter, with 51 million fewer pints poured for pubgoers than in the same period in 2011, while supermarkets and off-license sales were down by 6.5%.

The Huffington Post UK published its report into the state of Britain's brewers on 20 October and found brewers of all sizes were being hugely affected by the punishing tax.

“To give you an idea, we currently pay just over 50% of our total company turnover in various taxes to the government. Our business turns over about £20m a year,” Black Sheep brewery’s managing director Rob Theakston told Huff Post UK.

Palmers Brewery’s chairman John Palmer added: “The duty escalator has been extremely damaging… and has led to the demise of many thousands of pubs within the UK industry.

“There is a considerable amount of work being undertaken to prove that reducing VAT within the hospitality industry could lead to substantial job creation for young people.”

Tax relief is offered to those producing less than 30,000 barrels a year, but Nick Folkard, co-founder of Black Iris Brewery warned the continued duty rate increases could still force many of the smaller breweries to close down.

“The continued ability of supermarkets to push down prices and put on special offers, when people’s budgets are already squeezed, may lead to more people drinking at home,” he added.