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Scrap the beer duty escalator!

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted September 21, 2012
Scrap the beer duty escalator!
Axe the tax! The Houses of Parliament and a sign warning of illegal gamblers. (Check bottom for credit)

Moves to abolish the UK beer duty escalator have taken a major step forward, with a Parliamentary debate now "in prospect".

An e-petition calling on the UK government to abandonment the hated beer duty escalator has now attracted more than the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a Parliamentary debate.

The e-petition is apparently only the 12th of its kind, out of more than 16,000 submitted, to have surpassed the necessary threshold.

As we briefly mentioned it in passing in a previous story back in August, we feel fully justified in taking full credit for this achievement.

Well, some anyway.

"The beer duty escalator was introduced in 2008 by the last shower of shit to hold office in the UK and has since then been continued by the current coalition of crap," one political analyst drinking alone on a park bench put it.

As he passed out before he could explain more, we now switch to the words of a press release issued by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – the third we've run in nearly as many days – which describes the beer duty escalator as having "successively penalised Britain's beer drinkers by automatically increasing duty levels by 2% above inflation every year".

Resultantly, it continues, "tax on beer has increased by over 40% since 2008, with a third of every pub pint now being swallowed in tax".

Our emphasis, by the way.

"In other words, if you pay £3.60 for a pint, £1.20 of that goes straight to the Treasury to waste on bombs and other bollocks," as one economist we found peeing into a bin in the same park told us.

Now back to that CAMRA press release.

During the same period that the escalator has been in effect, more than 4,500 pubs have shut up shop across the UK.

In response to all this, CAMRA "has invested significant resources into campaigning against the beer duty escalator".

Major breakthroughs in the lead up to the e-petition garnering the required 100,000 signatures, included "over 15,000 beer drinkers adding their names to it" during the course of the Great British Beer Festival at London's Olympia this past August.

"With a Parliamentary debate now in prospect", CAMRA reports that it is "ramping up the pressure on government by announcing it is to hold a Mass Parliamentary Lobby in Westminster on Wednesday, December 12, with over 1,000 people expected to attend from all corners of the UK to voice their discontent at punitive tax increases on Britain's national drink".

Those attending, who we hope will include a fair few of the 38m regular readers of the Rake & Herald, "will be asking to speak to their respective local MPs and seeking their support to protect the nation's historic beer and pub industry".

"Joining a very small minority of e-petitions to have ever reached the 100,000 landmark is a mammoth achievement and it's been fantastic to witness the beer and pub industry uniting to fight back against this issue," says CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine.

"Over the last six months, CAMRA has been collecting signatures at beer festivals, organising local campaigning events as well as supplying pubs with petition material."

"On CAMRA's part, we have devoted a great amount of resources to this campaign, so we are delighted this has all paid off."

"CAMRA's next step is not to rest on our laurels but to maintain the impetus with our Mass Parliamentary Lobby, which will reinforce to MPs the groundswell of support for this campaign."

"With all the battering it has taken, the beer and pub sector still manages to contribute over £21bn a year to the UK's GDP and supports one million jobs, so it's about time the government honoured its pledge to be 'pub friendly'1."

If you haven't noticed already, the Rake & Herald loves beer and pubs, so we're fully backing the abolition of the beer duty escalator.

Scrap it now and cut the price of booze full stop.

Exclamation mark.

For more information, check out the Save Your Pint website here.

See also Youngsters, get down the pub!, posted 7/8/12.


1) The promise to be 'pub friendly' was apparently made by David Cameron, the five-times great-grandson of William IV, some kind of cousin to the queen and current tenant of 10 Downing Street, during Prime Minister's Questions on November 3, 2010. However, as we simply can't be arsed to plough through the pages of Hansard to verify this, we're just going to accept what CAMRA says on the matter. After all, CAMRA fights the corner for real ale and proper pubs so we think they're ace. Top stuff, CAMRA. Keep up the good work!

Picture credit

Top and thumb: The Houses of Parliament in London by FASTILY; rejigged by Ignatius Rake.

For licensing information click the above link.

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