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3rd June 2021

Cut tax on beer served in pubs to safeguard Britain’s traditional cask ale, urge MPs

A report commissioned by a cross party group of MPs has recommended a new draught beer duty rate to boost footfall in pubs

The Government should cut duty on draught beer served in pubs and social clubs to help them compete with supermarket alcohol – and recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic.

That is the main finding of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group’s ‘Caskenomics’ report into cask beer and the Covid crisis, which has been published today.

It finds that traditional British cask ale, which is only available to consumers at their local, needs support to thrive in the months and years ahead.

Fresh, live beer, which has a short shelf life, had to be poured away when lockdowns hit and often was not available whilst pubs could not open their doors or beer gardens – leading to a 72% reduction in sales by February 2021.

Prior to the pandemic, the cask ale sector contributed 72,500 jobs to the UK economy.

The All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group’s report urges the Government to promote pubs as a secure place to socialise safely, as well as reducing the tax burden on the beer and pubs sector amid warnings that sales are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022.

Commenting on the launch of the Caskenomics report, CAMRA National Chairman Nik Antona said:

“This report by the Parliamentary Beer Group makes it clear that the Government must take much-needed action to support our pubs, breweries and our national drink – traditional cask ale.

“Pub goers and beer drinkers will be particularly pleased to see the Caskenomics report recommending a long-term change to the way beer is taxed to reduce the tax paid on the price of a pint in the pub – with savings passed onto consumers and pub landlords.

“This would promote drinking in the supervised setting of the community pub rather than promoting cheap supermarket alcohol – helping to support pub-going, encourage responsible drinking, save jobs and keep pubs and local breweries alive and thriving.

“The Chancellor should listen to the recommendations in today’s report and commit to reducing tax on the pint in pubs across Britain, helping our locals at a time when they need it most.”


Notes to editors: 

A copy of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group’s Caskenomics report can be found here:  

Without Government intervention, the report warns, declining cask ale production would have significant fallout for a number of reasons:

  • Many pubs are reliant on cask ales to draw in wider custom and tourism to the locality with wider benefits for local employment
  • Cask ales are typically relatively low alcohol beers, one of lowest alcohol choices on the bar
  • British hop farmers could go out of business
  • All cask ales are sold in returnable containers making it the greenest way to enjoy a beer.

In order to prevent the decline of pubs and the brewing industry, the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group report has made five specific recommendations:

  • Government to reduce the overall burden on brewers and pubs through lower overall duty, VAT and business rates and to urgently consider the specific merits of a lower rate of duty for on-sales of draught beers to encourage footfall back into pubs
  • Government must stick to the roadmap for reopening and run a public information campaign to restore consumer confidence that pubs are safe
  • Government to consider targeted COVID debt-forgiveness and measures to ameliorate the impact of crown debt
  • Industry to convene a working group to capitalise on the possibilities for cask beers as an environmentally friendly, locally focussed, premium and uniquely British product
  • Government to incentivise and/or support investment in the UK’s hop sector, to tide it over a period of unprecedented uncertainty.

About CAMRA:  

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 180,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community.

Press release from CAMRA

Media Contact:  

CAMRA Press Office:
01727 337863