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'Osborne looking at duty cut' -- Burton MP

Added: Saturday, February 1st 2014

Marston's bottling line

Chancellor George Osborne will look at the possibility of reducing beer duty in this year’s Budget, Burton-on-Trent MP Andrew Griffiths said yesterday, 31 December. Griffiths was officially opening a new £7 million bottling line at Marston’s Brewery in Burton and said the Chancellor had told him he recognised Burton’s key role in the brewing industry and said his Treasury team were looking at beer duty and the possibility of a further cut in the run-up to the Budget.

In the 2013 Budget, Osborne cut the duty by a penny on a pint and also scrapped the Beer Duty Escalator introduced by his Labour predecessor Alistair Darling. The escalator automatically increased beer duty every year at the time of the Budget and both brewers and campaigners blamed it for driving drinkers out of pubs and increasing the rate of pub closures.

The axing of the escalator followed an e-petition to parliament organised by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. The petition won the support of more than 100,000 people.

Andrew Griffiths, who chairs the All Parliamentary Beer Group, said in Burton that the cut in duty last year had created more confidence in the market and boosted the kind of investment shown by Marston’s in its new bottling plant.

“Marston’s is investing in Burton and that’s good for the town as well as the brewery,” he said. “The cut in duty last year has encouraged the growth of the cask beer market, which has created more jobs and grown the overall beer market.

“Beer is a great British product – we brew the best beer in the world.”

Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay added that the company had recorded two quarters of growth last year and said the cut in duty had been “helpful”. In total, his company has invested £20 million on expanding the Burton brewery complex.

Findlay said the new bottling line, which will take on contract bottling for other companies, is highly flexible and can handle sterile-filtered, pasteurised and bottle-conditioned beers. His Director of Brewing Richard Westwood said his brewing team were actively considering producing more of its beers in bottle-conditioned form.

*Pictured above: left to right Ralph Findlay, Andrew Griffiths MP, Richard Westwood and Director of Supply Chain Emma Gilleland.