We’ve just gone through what is termed Stoptober where misguided (but no doubt well-meaning) organisations try and persuade us to give up things like alcohol for a month. Fairly soon they’ll be calling for Dry January when even more pressure will be laid at the pub door as people “detox” from the festive excesses. So the last thing the pub industry needs right now is a tax hike in this month’s Budget.
Figures from the British Beer & Pub Association show sales of beer in Britain’s pubs suffered a worrying 3.6% drop from July to September, the worst third-quarter performance for five years. The news has prompted urgent calls for a halt to yet more beer tax rises in the Budget on November 22.
The slump in on-trade sales represents an astonishing 35 million fewer pints sold in our pubs, bars and restaurants. Beer sales were also hit by a 3.9% tax rise in the March Budget yet the Chancellor plans yet another increase this month. Coupled with pressure from sky-high business rates and the “health lobby” the move would see many more pubs closing.
We’ve got to admit that it’s tempting on these darker, colder nights to take one look out of the window and decide to not bother with the pub quiz. Shake yourself off and head for great beer, good crack and warm welcomes.
Maybe it’s time to be a rebel. Contact your local member of parliament to register your disapproval at Chancellor Hammond’s plans. Sign petitions, be contrary, resist, dissent, and if you can’t exactly take to the streets, take yourself to the pub.
Editor, Cheers North East