Published on: 22nd Nov 2023
Beer and Pub Sector React To The Autumn Statement

Reacting to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement announcement that beer duty will be frozen until August 2024, the small business multiplier frozen, and Hospitality Business Rate Relief extended, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said:

The Government today have backed British business by supporting Britain’s great pubs and brewers who employ almost a million people across the country and are at the beating heart of communities.

“We welcome the Chancellor’s decisions to freeze beer duty until August 2024, freeze to the small business rates multiplier, and his maintaining a business rate relief of 75% for pubs. These policy decisions will save our sector around £350 million. They will help deliver growth across cities, towns and villages all over the UK, helping to level up the nation and spur growth in local economies. This headroom is critical, particularly with the National Living Wage increases - at more than double the rate of inflation -  which will add over £240 million to pub wage bills at this challenging time.

“However, the Chancellor has once again recognised the importance of our nation’s pubs and brewers to the economy and communities, and the importance of keeping a trip to the pub affordable."

Chris Jowsey, CEO of Admiral Taverns, said:

“Over the past few challenging years, pubs up and down the country have proven their importance as social hubs for their communities, working tremendously hard to overcome every obstacle that has been thrown at them and yet they have continued to be one of the most heavily taxed business sectors in the UK. We welcome the measures announced by the Chancellor, including a freeze on beer duty and an extension to the business rates relief which will reduce the unfair tax burden and provide many pubs with an opportunity to trade out of this economic crisis."

Paul Davies, CEO of Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company said:

“We are pleased to see the Government respond to industry calls to refrain from imposing further increases to the headline duty rate for beer and to maintain the hospitality business rate relief. We have already seen insurmountable pressure on our industry, with brewers across the sector absorbing more cost pressures than ever before to try and ensure beer stays affordable.

“The Government’s acknowledgment today of these challenges come as a relief, allowing businesses time to acclimate to the changes already introduced this year. The brewing industry is so deeply integrated into the fabric of the UK and continues to drive growth for the economy, so these policy decisions are a much-needed show of support, providing the stability the great British beer and pub sector needs during these uncertain times.”

Phil Whitehead, managing director for Western Europe at Molson Coors Beverage Company, said:

“The alcohol duty freeze will be welcomed by pubs and punters alike. Beer makes up 70% of all alcoholic drinks sold in pubs and is vital to the hospitality industry’s success. Having already seen a headline duty increase in August, a further rise would have been a hammer blow to the sector, so this announcement, combined with action on business rates, will help to protect the future of much-loved venues and breweries and give the industry a platform to drive long-term economic growth.

“There are pubs, bars and breweries of all sizes in every corner of the country, meaning our industry has a unique role to play in powering growth in communities across the UK. Giving these businesses the right backing and allowing them to achieve their potential must therefore remain a priority for government now and in the future.”

Brian Perkins, CEO of Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, said:

“We are pleased that the Government is acknowledging the inflationary impact of excise taxes by freezing beer duty however the UK still taxes beer more than most European countries and British beer drinkers still pay the third highest beer tax in Europe.  To encourage growth in an Industry which contributes 26bn to the economy and supports over 936,000 jobs, a lower rate is needed.”

Boudewijn Haarsma, Managing Director of Heineken UK said:

“The Chancellor’s decision to heed our calls to freeze duty and continue business rates support is a vote of confidence in pubs, brewers and cidermakers. We can now look to plan our investments in 2024 with more certainty. Jeremy Hunt was right to highlight the importance of the Great British pint, our pubs sit at the heart of so many communities across the country and the moves made today mean publicans and pubgoers will be raising a glass.”

Nick Mackenzie, CEO of Greene King, said:

“The Chancellor’s decision to freeze alcohol duty is a welcome lifeline for many pubs and breweries. The extension to the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality business rates relief scheme, and freezing the small business rates multiplier, are also both welcome and will help provide vital respite to our tenanted pubs who are struggling with high costs in other areas. However, these will offer little support to businesses like Greene King that manage and invest in pubs in communities.

“Pubs play a huge role in contributing to the nation’s growth and employ hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. We've invested heavily in our pubs and the long-term future of our sector, but at the same time we’ve seen the cost of doing business continue to rise. We continue to invest in our brilliant teams across the UK but must recognise that the 10% rise in the National Living Wage will add extra pressure on pub operators across the country. We urge the Chancellor to continue to explore ways to reduce the costs facing all pubs, so the sector can help unlock the growth he is seeking.”

Clive Chesser, Punch Pubs & Co. CEO, said:

“We are pleased that the Chancellor has clearly listened, with the Government again recognising the vital contribution that pubs make to the UK’s economic and social fibre.

“The welcome announcements on alcohol duty and business rates will provide a positive stimulus as we continue to bring communities together, drive investment in jobs, and strengthen our status as a creator of real growth throughout the nation.

“A strong and sustainable economic recovery rests on the foundations of a robust and reinvigorated hospitality industry. It is imperative that we all continue to work together to protect our local pubs and the wider hospitality sector after an unrelenting period of pressure.”

Nuno Teles, Managing Director, Diageo GB said:

“Today we raise a glass to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, who have listened to the industry’s plea for support and decided to back our homegrown sector, that employs so many people across the UK. Drinkers and pub-goers across the country now have even more reason to celebrate this festive season. Cheers Chancellor!”