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2nd December 2021

Changes to Small Brewers Relief set to boost beer industry across the country

Small Brewers today welcomed the outcome of the Treasury technical consultation on Small Brewers Relief, and the proposal for reform now published. The vast majority of the beer industry has been calling for reform of SBR for many years to remove the market distortions it caused and to encourage normal business growth. The Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition was formed in 2017 to galvanise support for reform of SBR and the Coalition is delighted to welcome the Government’s announcement today which recognises the difficulties caused by the current system to the ‘squeezed middle’ by amending to the rules to create a fairer system. The new proposed relief with banded marginal rates, will more closely align with economies of scale in the sector so will allow for fairer competition and will incentivise the growth of brewers of all sizes.

A spokesperson for the Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition said

“After years of engagement, discussion and analysis we are very pleased that the Treasury has put forward sensible and measured proposals.

“This further support for the beer industry is a very important step in saving the British pint as we know it. This move recognises both the cultural and social importance of the British pint and will put the industry on a much fairer and sustainable basis in the future. Growth is now possible for brewers of all sizes without being penalised by the tax system.

“This proposal fully protects the interests of the very smallest brewers who make up over 90% of the brewers in the UK, whilst staging duty relief to more closely align to diseconomies of scale.

“Recent government actions will mean brewers of all sizes from the very smallest to the largest will be better off.”

“We are grateful for the professional and even-handed way Ministers and Officials have dealt with the review.”

Simon Theakston, Joint Managing Director, T&R Theakston Ltd said:

“This is good news as it will create a much fairer opportunity for brewers of all sizes throughout the UK to thrive and prosper in the future as we all seek to recover from the horrors of Covid. In particular, it will bring greater clarity to the SBR scheme and a much closer alignment with production economies of scale which will allow for greater certainty of planning and the unlocking of capital investment which is so critical in safeguarding the future of our great British tradition of cask ale brewing.”

Rupert Thompson, Owner, Hogs Back Brewery Ltd said:

“The Government has listened to the very real concerns of the beer and pub sector that has been so badly hit by Covid and has acted decisively to support growth in the sector. This further help for the industry on top of measures announced at the recent budget recognises that our sector has been historically overtaxed. The whole industry can look forward to a future where they are taxed less which will stimulate business growth and investment especially in small and mid-sized local businesses. It is fantastic that the Government has recognised that brewers support pubs and pubs strengthen local communities.”

Dr Andy Wood, CEO, Adnams PLC

“This is welcome news that achieves the right balance between safeguarding the interests of smaller brewers whilst creating an overall fairer system.  We can all move on now to what we do best, brewing great beer, creating jobs and economic growth”

Jonathan Neame, Chief Executive, Shepherd Neame

“We welcome these proposed changes as a vote of confidence in local breweries. Although Shepherd Neame is not directly affected, we are delighted the Government has recognised that the current system needed reform, and that the new proposals create a more level playing field for all operators and provide the incentive for small brewers to grow.”

Patrick McCaig, MD, Otter Brewery Ltd

“At last, the glass ceiling comes down and we can grow a local business in the knowledge that our key cost remains in harmony with our production. This is great news for small brewers who can now confidently grow their businesses and supply a good local alternative to the dominating large brewers. It is great that the Government recognises this and I’m sure this news will be welcomed across our sector, by our great British pubs and their customers.

Tim Dewey, Chief Executive, Timothy Taylor’s     

“I am pleased to see HM Treasury publish the results of their technical consultation on reform to Small Brewers Relief (SBR).  As anticipated, the changes below 5,000hl are extremely modest in the context of a positive proposal that gets rid of the cliff edge that hindered growth and the provision of transitional relief for mergers and acquisitions.  I hope that our industry can now put the rather fractious debate on this issue behind us and focus instead on the need to rejuvenate the cask ale market, which was in significant decline pre-Covid and is in even greater stress since.”

William Lees-Jones, Managing Director, JW Lees

“Very encouraging to see that HM Treasury are looking to make Small Brewers Relief fairer for all smaller brewers”

Notes to Editors:

  • The Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition (SBDRC) consists of independent and/or family-owned brewers. The Coalition was formed in early 2017 with the very specific purpose of asking Government to review and improve Small Brewer Relief (SBR).

  • Stakeholders from across the whole industry agreed on the need for reform and all submitted to the review that was announced in October 2018, as well as the subsequent technical consultation.

Press release from The Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition