herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

My changes to the headline here

A 'SLIGHT change in tone' by ministers is evidence the Government may be preparing to freeze the amount of tax levied on beer, it has been claimed.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths suggested Chancellor George Osborne may have 'pencilled in' plans to cancel a five per cent rise in beer duty, due to come into effect after the Budget in two weeks' time.

In a Westminster Hall debate held yesterday, Treasury minister Sajid Javid said the Government could not make 'any specific commitment' to abolish the beer duty escalator, which forces the amount of tax up by two per cent every year plus the rate of inflation.

But Mr Javid told MPs: "I am listening and I understand the importance of this issue."

The Treasury believes it will lose £105 million over the next two years if the escalator is abolished, but the pub and brewing industry argues an ever-increasing excise is forcing businesses to close and putting thousands of people out of work.

Mr Griffiths said after the debate: "I was encouraged by what I saw as a slight change in tone from the Government." A 'SLIGHT change in tone' by ministers is evidence the Government may be preparing to freeze the amount of tax levied on beer, it has been claimed.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths suggested Chancellor George Osborne may have 'pencilled in' plans to cancel a five per cent rise in beer duty, due to come into effect after the Budget in two weeks' time.

In a Westminster Hall debate held yesterday, Treasury minister Sajid Javid said the Government could not make 'any specific commitment' to abolish the beer duty escalator, which forces the amount of tax up by two per cent every year plus the rate of inflation.

But Mr Javid told MPs: "I am listening and I understand the importance of this issue."

The Treasury believes it will lose £105 million over the next two years if the escalator is abolished, but the pub and brewing industry argues an ever-increasing excise is forcing businesses to close and putting thousands of people out of work.

Mr Griffiths said after the debate: "I was encouraged by what I saw as a slight change in tone from the Government."

He said the Treasury had previously flatly refused to cancel the escalator, but claimed Mr Javid's language yesterday showed the Government was 'giving itself some wriggle room to do something positive' in the Budget.

He said: "I genuinely feel the pressure that's built up about the damage being done by the beer duty escalator is beginning to resonate in the Treasury.

"George Osborne's plans will be written in pencil and we need to make sure between now and the Budget that he is inking in some good news for brewers."

The escalator was introduced in 2008 and since then beer duty has surged by 42 per cent.

He said the Treasury had previously flatly refused to cancel the escalator, but claimed Mr Javid's language yesterday showed the Government was 'giving itself some wriggle room to do something positive' in the Budget.

He said: "I genuinely feel the pressure that's built up about the damage being done by the beer duty escalator is beginning to resonate in the Treasury.

"George Osborne's plans will be written in pencil and we need to make sure between now and the Budget that he is inking in some good news for brewers."

The escalator was introduced in 2008 and since then beer duty has surged by 42 per cent.

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