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20th March 2012

Brewery chief’s Budget plea to deputy PM

North West brewery boss David Grant has made a personal plea to the deputy Prime Minister to help the beer industry in Wednesday’s Budget.

The managing director of the acclaimed Moorhouse’s Brewery appealed to Nick Clegg in a meeting for Burnley businessmen last Thursday – on the eve the Lib/Dem leader’s ‘pre budget summit’ with Chancellor George Osborne.

During a private dinner in Padiham Mr Grant said the industry must be spared a two per cent above inflation ‘beer duty escalator’ tax to avoid driving away pub customers and job losses. Mr Grant also pointed out that the beer industry supports almost 1m UK jobs while Britain pays 40 per cent of the EU beer tax bill – yet consumes only 13 per cent of the beer sold in Europe

He said: “I told the deputy Prime Minister that last year one in six of 16-to-24-year-olds in employment were employed in pubs and breweries. He was amazed at that figure and the fact that 50 per cent of a brewer’s turnover goes in duty. I gave him the Society for Independent Brewers Industry Report and he promised to read it on his way home.”

“I also suggested that the Progressive Beer Duty threshold for smaller brewers should be moved and explained that if the Government continues with the beer duty escalator then it would have an adverse effect on all of us. I don’t think my comments fell on deaf ears, but this is not going to be fixed straight away. If the trade continues to push these messages through then I think someone will listen. I was probably the last brewing person to have the ear of the deputy PM before he met with the Chancellor last Friday. I hope I made some impression.”

Last year Moorhouse’s bucked the recession with a £4.2m investment to grow business for its famous Pendle Witch cask-conditioned ales. Now the 147-year-old Burnley company aims to double its £3.5m plus turnover in two years to become a fully fledged ‘regional brewer’.

Moorhouse’s is a member of the SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers), which has campaigned vigorously against the ‘duty escalator’ and Mr Grant is also urging all brewers to ask their local MP to sign up to Parliamentary motion EDM 2785 against the the tax or protest to the Treasury.*

Ends/ref: MHPR Budget Appeal to Nick Clegg 2012