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1st March 2013

Beer Tax – MPs and industry leaders deliver ‘message in a barrel’ to Treasury [with photo]

Brigid Simmonds barrel at Treasury lr.jpg

Sixty Members of Parliament from all parties have joined forces in calls for a freeze in beer duty in the March Budget by sending a special ‘message in a barrel’ to the Chancellor at an event in Westminster, as featured on page two of today’s Sun newspaper.

The Theakston’s hand-crafted oak barrel, containing its calls from MPs for a freeze in beer duty, was later taken to the Treasury by MPs and representatives of the British Beer & Pub Association (organisers of the event) CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) and SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers). This iconic symbol of Britain’s world-renowned brewing and pub industry is a reminder of how important brewing and pubs are to the UK economy, says the BBPA.

Beer duty has risen by an unprecedented 42 per cent since March 2008, yet the Chancellor plans a further increase in the Budget on 20th March.  The result of the controversial policy has been falling beer sales and pub closures in recent years.

Brigid Simmonds Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, which organised today’s event as part of the growing Beer Tax campaign, adds:


“I want to thank so many MPs for championing beer and pubs in their constituency. Beer Tax hikes are not raising more revenues for the Government, and with a duty freeze we can create many more jobs.”


The BBPA’s barrel was specially made for the beer tax campaign by Theakston’s, the legendary North Yorkshire brewer based in the Dales, in the market town of Masham. The company brews many fine ales, such as Old Peculier, one of the country’s most well-known and loved.


The barrel was made from finest quality oak by Theakston’s cooper, Jonathan Manby. Jonathan is the last apprenticed craft cooper in England and has been cooper at Theakston’s for 18 years, after an apprenticeship lasting four years. This nine gallon barrel is known as a ‘firkin’.




For further information please contact:


David Wilson, Director of Public Affairs: 020 7627 9151/ 07557 436 033

Gareth Barrett, Public Affairs Manager: Tel: (020) 7627 9154

Neil Williams, Head of Media: 020 7627 9156 / 07974 249 779


Notes to editors:


The British Beer & Pub Association is the UK’s leading organisation representing the brewing and pub sector.  Its members account for 96 per cent of the beer brewed in the UK and around half of Britain’s 50,000 pubs.


1.      Photo caption: Brigid Simmonds, MPs, and industry representatives take message in a barrel to Treasury

2.       (For further information on beer duty, visit

3.      To view the BBPA film on duty and the budget, see here:


4.      Beer sales support around one million jobs and generate nearly £8 billion in tax revenues.


5.      Beer duty was increased by 5 per cent in the March 2012 Budget. The total increase in beer duty since March 2008 stands at 42 per cent. The Government’s controversial beer tax ‘escalator’ policy means increases of two per cent above inflation until 2014/15.

 The campaign in numbers:

  • Thousands of people have sent their message to the chancellor in a beer barrel today in a joint BBPA/CAMRA/SIBA and All Party Parliamentary beer group in the House of Commons. Headline figures behind the campaign:
  • 146 MPs have signed the Early Day Motion calling for the beer duty escalator to be abolished (and counting!): The campaign has cross-party support and this EDM is one of the most popular/has highest number of signatures in this parliamentary session – 5th (almost 4th!) most popular motion.
  • 108,828 people have now signed the e-petition
  • 700 breweries are represented by BBPA and SIBA; CAMRA have nearly 148,000 members – all of who are behind it/have sent their messages. #