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Beer Sales Slump Blamed On Tax Policy

(c) Sky News 2013

Beer sales in Britain have plunged for the eighth year in a row.

Figures show that 381 million fewer pints were drunk in 2012 compared to the year before.

And the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) blames the Government's "damaging" tax policy.

The association has joined campaign groups in calling for a review of the beer duty escalator, which was introduced in 2008 and sees tax on beer increase by 2% above inflation each year.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition in protest at the extra tax, urging the Chancellor to announce in the March Budget that it will be scrapped.

Pub beer sales slumped by 4.8% in the final quarter of 2012 compared with a year earlier, with total beer sales down by 4.7% over the year.

Sales of beer in supermarkets and shops fell by 7.5% in the final three months of 2012 compared to the previous year, while sales in pubs, bars and restaurants were down by 4.8%.

Overall, beer sales have fallen every year since 2005.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "These figures show that the Government needs to stop its full-on tax assault on our vital beer and pub industry.

"We've had tax hikes of 42% since March 2008, which is hugely damaging and completely unacceptable for such an important manufacturing sector.

She added: "Instead, we could be protecting and creating jobs at a time when the country most needs it."

Beer sales support around a million jobs and generate almost £8bn in tax revenues, according to the BBPA.

A Treasury spokesman said: "Getting the deficit under control has meant tough choices.

"Although we have not made any changes to the alcohol duty plans we inherited from the previous Government, pubs are benefiting from action we've taken to support businesses, including a cut in employers' national insurance contributions, the business rates holiday and reductions in corporation tax."