Pints down the pub could have price slashed as PM hints at tax cuts for boozers

Pub beer duty could be slashed with supermarkets stumping up the difference after lockdown, Boris Johnson has hinted.

The Prime Minister on Wednesday described calls for a boozers tax boost in next week's Budget as "an extremely good point".

He said government was "looking closely" at its options after the Treasury undertook a review on alcohol duty last year.

Tory MP Giles Watling asked during prime minister's questions: "Pubs have been closing all over Britain for decades now, tearing the hearts out of communities. This terrible pandemic has made things even worse. Part of the problem is undercutting by cheap supermarket booze.

"Surely, now that we are out of the EU, we can do as we please with beer duty. Differentiation in favour of onsales could deliver great benefits to pubs in communities such as Clacton, at nil cost to the taxpayer."

The PM said the Clacton MP had made "an extremely good point, which I am sure will be heard with great interest around the country.

"There is just such a review being carried out after consulting pub owners, brewers and others, and I know that the chancellor is looking very closely at the findings."

Changes to alcohol duty could boost pub sales by 100 million pints a year and stop thousands of pubs closing their doors for good this year, experts said.

The Social Market Foundation last week urged the PM to add 14p to a supermarket can and slash 36p off the price of a pint down the pub, the Telegraph reports.

In his first budget last March, chancellor Rishi Sunak scrapped a planned increase in duty on beer and spirits, and froze tax on all other alcoholic drinks.

He told MPs then: "Pubs are at the centre of community life. But too many have closed over the last decade."

The duty freeze is estimated to cost about £200 million a year from 2020-21.

Beer duty has increased by about 60 per cent over the past 17 years, according to the industry, with the UK paying three times more than the average rate in Europe.

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