Wednesday 12 March 2008

Budget 'Charter for smugglers and cheap suppermarket booze'

CAMRA slams inflation-busting beer duty increase as ‘a charter for smugglers and cheap supermarket booze’
Four penny tax increase will do nothing to curb binge drinking but will hit poorest the hardest

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has hit out at the Chancellor’s decision to increase beer duty by 4 pence a pint in today’s Budget, together with annual increases of 2% above inflation for the next four years. The consumer group claims that the increase will lead to at least 20 pence on a pint over the bar, fuelling pub closures and increasing unregulated drinking as more choose to drink at home or on the streets. This is the first time ever that beer tax has increased by 4 pence – a rise of 13%!

CAMRA recently announced that 57 pubs are lost permanently every month as the price differential between pubs and supermarkets widens. Pubs provide a regulated environment for people to enjoy alcohol socially and responsibly.

Mike Benner, Chief Executive of CAMRA said, “The Chancellor has failed to recognise that well-run community pubs are the solution to Britain’s binge drinking problems. This budget will do nothing to stop binge drinking, but it will lead to pub closures on a huge scale, widen the gap between supermarket and pub prices and encourage smuggling and cross-border shopping. It’s a great big nail whacked ruthlessly into the coffin of the British pub.”

The 90,000 strong consumer group has condemned the announcement that beer tax will increase above inflation for the next four years, despite what happens to UK pubs and the beer market.

Mike Benner added, “Pubs are defined as local services (1) yet this tax rise alongside other market pressures will accelerate closures to unprecedented levels. The budget shows a disregard for our national drink and for the 15 million people who enjoy it responsibly.

CAMRA called for a cut in beer duty in the Budget to help pubs compete with supermarket prices. CAMRA believes that supermarket prices of beer are unlikely to be affected significantly by the tax increase, but pubs as small businesses, will have no choice but to increase prices at the bar.

Latest survey on pubs prices released today

The latest survey of pub prices across Britain is also released by CAMRA today. It shows that real ale prices across the UK have increased by 4.6% in the last year and the average price of a pint now sits at £2.45. CAMRA claims that average post-budget pub prices will now hit at least £2.65 for real ale and £2.85 for lager.

Before Budget increases apply, the most expensive region for a pint is London at £2.64 for real ale and £2.84 for lager. The best value pint of real ale was in the North at £2.15, with the best value lager in the North West at £2.40.


Notes to editors:

CAMRA’s annual survey of pub process was conducted between 24th January and 24th February 2008. Over 1,000 pubs were surveyed.

Key findings of the survey:

The average price of real ale rose by 11 pence to £2.45 – a 4.6% increase
The average price of lager rose by eight pence to £2.65 – a 3,3% increase
The highest price rises were in Scotland where real ale jumped by 7.8% to £2.55 a pint and lager by an inflation-busting 10.7% to £2.59 a pint
Average price of real cider has increased by 7% to £2.63, but this is still better value than keg ciders at £2.67 a pint
Real ales from Britain’s small independent brewers are the least expensive on average at £2.39 a pint

Full results of the survey are available at

CAMRA Pub Watch Survey shows that 57 pubs closed permanently in 2007 with 1567 closed with an uncertain future.

A summary of CAMRA’s Budget Submission to the Chancellor can be found at together with diagrams of tax rates in the EU and percentage of beer sold in pubs compared to shops.

CAMRA Budget Hotline – 01727 798443

For more information:

CAMRA press office: 01727 798443
Mike Benner: 01727 798441 mob: 07971 591224
Head of Public Affairs Jonathan Mail: 01727 798448. mob: 07720 724733
Research and Information Manager Iain Loe: 01727 798449. mob: 07801 706607

(1) The Sustainable Communities Act 2007

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