PUB landlords in north east Fife are urging the UK Government to call time on a planned hike in beer duty.
Tax on beer is expected to go up by at least five per cent in this month’s Budget — and campaigners are warning that the rise could lead to pub closures and job losses.
Local MP Sir Menzies Campbell has added his weight to the campaign, signing a parliamentary motion urging the Chancellor to scrap the ‘duty escalator’ that adds two per cent to beer tax on top of inflation.
Elizabeth McInroy, who owns the Cupar Arms, warned that the hike would hit drinkers as well as publicans.
She told the Fife Herald: “Pubs are struggling at the moment and more increases will just kill us.
“We’re not able to open until 3pm because people haven’t got the money to spend and there just isn’t the trade.
“Another increase will have a knock-on effect because if we have to pay more for it then we have to increase prices.
“We can’t pay more for our stock and not increase the front of house prices.”
Among the groups backing the campaign are the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
According to figures published by research group Oxford Economics on behalf of the BBPA, north east Fife’s 78 pubs provide 790 direct jobs — almost half to people under 25 — and contribute £21.6 million to the local economy.
Sir Menzies said: “I know from speaking to pub landlords right across north east Fife that times are tough at the moment.
“The threat of closure hangs over many of them.
“The local pub is often the heart of small communities and its closure would have a profound effect.
“I hope the Chancellor will take action to protect these much-loved pubs and the jobs they provide by scrapping the beer duty escalator.”
Mrs McInroy added: “It all comes down to the fact that the Government is trying to curb drinking.
“But they’re hitting the wrong targets — it’s the supermarkets they should be going after.
“Publicans have been penalised enough and it’s killing this trade.”