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Axe the Tax petition is over the finishing line as 100,000 sign up for key debate

Added: Thursday, September 20th 2012

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is today delighted to celebrate with other members of the beer and pub industry as the Government e-petition calling on the abandonment of the beer duty escalator has exceeded the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a Parliamentary debate. The petition is only the 12th Government e-petition - out of over 16,000 submitted - to have ever reached the 100,000 landmark.

The beer duty escalator, introduced by the last government in 2008, and continued by the coalition, has successively penalised Britain’s beer drinkers by automatically increasing duty levels by 2% above inflation every year. As a result, tax on beer has increased by over 40% since 2008, with a third of every pub pint now being swallowed in tax. Over 4,500 pubs have also closed over this same period.
CAMRA has invested significant resources into campaigning against the beer duty escalator, and major breakthroughs in the lead up to the petition securing 100,000 signatures included over 15,000 beer drinkers adding their names to it over the course of the Great British Beer Festival, held at London’s Olympia at the beginning of August.

With a Parliamentary debate now in prospect, CAMRA is ramping up the pressure on Government by announcing it is to hold a Mass Parliamentary Lobby in Westminster on Wednesday 12 December, with more than 1,000 people expected to attend from all corners of the country to voice their discontent at punitive tax increases on Britain’s national drink. Attendees will be asking to speak to their respective local MPs, and seeking their support to protect the nation’s historic beer and pub industry.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA National Chairman, said: "Joining a very small minority of e-petitions to have ever reached the 100,000 landmark is a mammoth achievement, and it’s been fantastic to witness the beer and pub industry uniting to fight back against this issue. Over the past six months, CAMRA has been collecting signatures at beer festivals, organising local campaigning events, as well as supplying pubs with petition material. On CAMRA’s part, we have devoted a great amount of resources to this campaign, so we are delighted this has all paid off.

"CAMRA’s next step is not to rest on our laurels but to maintain the impetus with our Mass Parliamentary Lobby, which will reinforce to MPs the groundswell of support for this campaign. With all the battering it has taken, the beer and pub sector still manages to contribute over £21 billion a year to the UK’s GDP, and supports one million jobs, so it’s about time the Government honoured its pledge to be 'pub friendly'”.

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group and Member of Parliament for Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland, has welcomed the news today that the e-petition against the controversial beer duty escalator has reached 100,000 signatures.

The Beer Duty Escalator increases the tax on beer at 2% above the rate of inflation each year, placing mounting pressure on our brewers who are brewing our national drink, which puts people off going to pubs, which play such an important role in our communities. Hundreds of brewers are struggling because of the policy, with Britons now paying 40% of the entire EU beer tax bill, despite consuming only 13% of the beer sold in Europe. 

Greg, along with many within the pub and brewing industry, have campaigned against the escalator including writing to the Chancellor and tabling EDMs on the issue. But despite pressure put on the Chancellor to scrap the escalator ahead of this year’s budget, the decision was made to keep it in place.

Greg, as Chair of the Save the Pub Group and Andrew Griffiths, as Chair of the Beer Group, will now be applying for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee when Parliament resumes.

 Commenting, Greg said: “I am delighted that after much campaigning the beer duty e-petition has now reached 100,000 signatures and that we will finally have the opportunity to debate this hugely important issue on the floor of the House of Commons. A huge well done must go to all those who have been involved in pushing the petition and I am glad that the Save the Pub Group have been at the heart of the campaign. It is vital all the hard work so far is maintained to ensure Treasury Ministers listen and act.

“The Chancellor must recognise and reward ingenuity, innovation and enterprise, and there can be few industries in Britain today to compare with the brewing and pubs industries, which provide employment for over a million people, almost half of whom are aged 16-21, and which contribute £21buillion to UK GDP every year.

We have a chance in the upcoming budget to recognise the strength of the sector, and stop putting such an important part of the nation’s economy under such strain. This is a time to support and nurture successful industries, and I look forward to debating this with colleague on the floor of the House and urging the Chancellor to scrap this damaging policy”


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