A freeze on alcohol prices in the “mini-budget” has drawn mixed reactions from the industry, with one distillery manager calling it “too little too late”.
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng told the Commons: “Our drive to modernize also extends to alcohol taxes.
“I have listened to industry concerns about the ongoing reforms, so I will be introducing an 18-month transitional measure for wine duties.
“I will also be extending draw relief to cover small kegs of 20 liters and above, to help small breweries. And, in this difficult time, we are not going to let alcohol duty rates increase in accordance with the RPI.
“I can therefore announce that the planned increases in duty rates for beer, cider, wine and spirits will all be cancelled.”
The government says the tax cut will save consumers 7p on a pint of beer, 4p on a pint of cider, 38p on a bottle of wine and £1.35 on a bottle of spirits.
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Sandra Wilkinson is the owner of the Gray Horse pub in Consett, which was visited by Mr Kwarteng in July last year when he was business secretary.
She said: “It’s true they need to modernize things so fingers crossed it’s a step in the right direction that they finally listen to the little industry pubs instead of just what the big boys want.
“Energy bills are going up, they’re going to be huge for everyone this winter, the spiraling costs of everything, so every little bit helps to cut the increase margins a little bit.
“It helps protect customers’ pockets as well as ours. They minimize the impact that needs to be acknowledged.”
She said of Kwarteng’s visit to the Consett Ale Works pub and brewery on the site: “He showed real interest when we met him. He seemed to take into account what people thought of him. industry.
“He seemed to care about the impact on the family. He seemed to understand everything.”
Elly Bell, owner and head brewer of Durham Brewery, said: “It’s great because it means we don’t have to raise prices again.
“It’s a relief that no further pressure is being put on the industry.”
She spoke of pubs reducing their opening hours amid rising costs for heating, lighting, fuel and materials: “They can’t afford to be open, in a nutshell, so they’re reducing their opening hours.
“Although we try to keep our prices as low as possible, we have had to increase our prices and that obviously makes it even more difficult for these independent pubs, which are the ones I think we should be supporting at the moment.
“We will be able to keep our prices low. They will have to go up a bit, but they won’t have to go up as much.”
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Not everyone was convinced. Wayne Richardson, Managing Director of Herbal Gin Company and Newton Aycliffe-based Aviator Gin Bar, said: “It’s too little too late.
“They didn’t control inflation when they could have controlled it because they were too busy bickering over who was going to be the next prime minister, and the energy companies could do whatever they wanted.
“Freeze the liquor tax, you might as well because the tax cuts I see only benefit the rich anyway. They do not benefit the workers. I think it’s smoke and mirrors.
“I know a lot of pubs that don’t have a fixed price, the (energy) costs have skyrocketed, a lot of people are returning their keys.
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“Save 7p on a pint, whoop-de-doo,” he said scathingly.
“It makes no difference because everyone’s costs have gone up.
“Freezing rights won’t do anything for pubs. It won’t do anything for small pubs.
“I predict we will lose 30% of our UK pubs, easily.
“I put the blame squarely on the government. They were sleeping on duty. I have never been so embarrassed as a citizen of this country to have them in much charge.”
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