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Government red tape is crippling drinks industry, warns BBPA

Published:  16 September, 2008

Government red tape and taxes are crippling Britain's brewing and pub sectors, warns a new repoby the The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

Government red tape and taxes are crippling Britain's brewing and pub sectors, warns a new report by the The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

The drinks body is calling on the Government to scrap its plans to increase beer taxes by a third over the next four years and introduce a "raft" of new red tape, such as a new mandatory code of practice - saying that such measures will "add even more layers of bureaucracy to how alcohol is sold in Britain".

The report, entitled 'A Wake up For Westminster', says that pub beer sales have sunk to the lowest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and that pub closures at five a day have reached "unprecedented levels". The BBPA says that the Government should focus on enforcing the existing rigorous laws, rather than create new ones which will just drive up business costs further and therefore force up prices for everyone.

BBPA chief executive, Rob Hayward, said: "The economy is shrinking, drinking trends are shifting and overall consumption is sinking. Now is not the time for the Government to be introducing policies that will force up prices for all. When it comes to alcohol misuse, targeting the problem few, rather than penalising all adults would be far more effective and avoid driving more pubs out of business.

"The Government should abandon its plans for more punitive tax rises on beer, and should concentrate on enforcing existing laws rather than introduce new ones. We need action to support the Great British Pub as a vital part of local community life in Britain. If we don't have a change of approach, many more communities will be without their much-loved pubs."

The report concludes that total beer sales are down 8 million pints a day since the peak of 1979 and that beer sales in pubs are down 16 million pints a day over the same period. It adds that 44,000 jobs have been lost across the sector in the last five years and estimates that a further 43,000 are projected to be lost in the next five years.