(Reuters) - Britain's pubs want the government's help in keeping prices of a pint affordable this Christmas, as surging inflation is driving up costs for businesses and hampering consumers' purchasing power.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), in a letter dated Nov. 11 to finance minister Jeremy Hunt, called on the government to bring back a freeze on beer duty in its budget announcement due on Nov. 17.
"We need the beer duty freeze reinstated to alleviate at least some of the cost pressure on our pubs and brewers and to avoid undermining the crucial Alcohol Duty reform measures," Chief Executive of BBPA Emma McClarkin said in a statement on Saturday.
The freeze, which was set to take effect from February, was cancelled as part of measures taken by Hunt last month to scrap tax cuts set by previous Prime Minister Liz Truss and scale back her vast energy subsidy.
BBPA said that soaring prices of everything from raw materials to fuel were forcing businesses to pass on the costs to their customers at the bar, with the average price of a pint up 8% on last year.
The levy on producing and selling beer depends on the beer's strength.
The industry body warned that failing to introduce the beer duty freeze would take the tax to its highest ever for the sector, adding that a freeze would channel about 360 million pounds ($423.5 million) back into the industry.
Britain's economic output shrank in the three months to September, data showed on Friday, putting the country on the brink of what many economists say could be a lengthy recession. Inflation, meanwhile, was back into double digits in September.
($1 = 0.8500 pounds)
(Reporting by Amna Karimi and Muhammed Husain in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton)