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UK brewers have biggest EU tax burden

Added: Thursday, December 6th 2018

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The shocking burden of beer duty in Britain and the knock-on effect of pub closures are revealed in research showing the country is the most heavily taxed in Europe, with Germany paying 12 times less in duty than British brewers.

The research has been carried out by the Brewers of Europe, which submits evidence to the European Union. The group represents the interests of Europe’s 8,500 breweries.

The group says the UK brewed four billion litres of beer in 2017 – equivalent to 10 per cent of the total production in Europe. The figure places the UK behind Germany, which produced 9.3 billion litres. The research also shows that with 2,378 breweries, the UK has the highest number of brewers in the EU.

But British drinkers also pay the most tax on their beer, stumping up almost 40 per cent of all beer duty in Europe. Beer duty in the UK on a pint of 5 per cent beer is 54p, compared with just 5p in Germany.

The UK is the second biggest beer producer in Europe but its per capita consumption of 67 litres places it 15th on the list, with the Czech Republic topping the table at 138 litres.

The British Beer & Pub Association says the tax burden is holding the brewing industry back. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds says: “We should be proud the UK is one of the biggest producers of beer in Europe. Considering we pay some of the highest tax on beer, that is no mean feat.

“The beer tax burden is harming British brewers and holding back growth, as is shown by the gap between the UK and Germany. German beer tax is about 12 times less than that of the UK and, as a result, it brews more than twice as much beer as us.

“The recent freezes on beer duty by the chancellor have proved to support British brewers’ growth, help pubs stay open and increase revenue to HM Revenue & Customs. It’s a no-brainer to reduce beer duty.”