Thank you for contacting me about support for pubs and beer duty. I have read your email carefully and have noted the key points that you make. I have always been a very strong supporter of our pubs and pub sector, both locally and nationally.
In 2013, the Government took the decision to end the beer duty escalator, and beer duty has been frozen or cut several times since then. Duty on spirits has been frozen over the past two years. As a result of these changes, a typical pint is cheaper than it would have been had these measures not been introduced. I welcomed the announcement that for only the second time in 20 years every alcohol duty has been frozen, meaning that this freeze covers duty on spirits, beer, wine, and cider.
I should also mention that these new measures follow a robust package of support introduced since the start of the pandemic. No pub or other business in the hospitality sector will be required to pay business rates this year and the HMRC has made it easier to claim back the duty on any beer thrown away as a result of pub closures. The Business and Planning Act made it easier to serve customers outdoors through temporary changes to planning procedures and licensing. Lastly, the unprecedented Job Retention Scheme has rightly protected over 9 million jobs through the most difficult period of the pandemic, which I am sure has been a relief and comfort to many.
I want to see the Government continue to support pubs and keep costs down for consumers. Any decision to modify alcohol duty in the future is a matter for the Treasury. I have ensured my Ministerial colleagues are aware of the points you raise and reminded them of the importance of local pubs in our communities. There is a broad recognition of the need to reform the current duty system to support the alcoholic drinks and pubs sector in the longer term, and a call for evidence is due to be published before the end of 2020.
In the meantime, I continue to be in very close touch with several publicans here in Woking and our local villages. I am very grateful for the highly responsible approach that they have taken over the past few months and I am pleased to have been able to give some advice over this difficult period and to relay their most pressing concerns to relevant Ministers
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking