The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has urged the government to change its plans to increase the amount of tax that small brewers across the UK will have to pay.
In a letter to Kemi Badenoch MP, exchequer secretary to the treasury, CAMRA’s chairman and chief executive laid out its concerns over the move to reduce the level of production at which small brewers receive the full level of tax relief – in order to allow larger brewers to pay less.
“Small Brewers’ Relief has been instrumental in creating the brewing boom that we have seen over the past two decades and is vital to maintaining a thriving and diverse beer market, and choice for consumers,” says Nik Antona, CAMRA national chairman. “The news of these poorly considered reforms to the Small Brewers’ Relief Scheme could not come at a worse time for our small brewers, who are already facing financial uncertainty due to the coronavirus crisis.
“That’s why CAMRA is joining calls for the government to rethink its plans to remove tax relief from the smallest brewers to allow larger brewers to pay less, and to publish more information about any other proposed changes to the scheme as soon as possible.”
Details on a petition which calls on the government to reverse the proposed tax rise can be found here.
The letter in full
Dear Kemi Badenoch,
We are writing from CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, regarding the Treasury Review of Small Brewers’ Relief. CAMRA is UK wide consumer group representing nearly 190,000 beer and pub enthusiasts. We campaign for thriving community pubs and consumer choice for beer drinkers.
CAMRA believes that the Small Brewers’ Relief Scheme is vital to a thriving beer market, and to ensuring choice for consumers. The scheme has been instrumental in the growth in numbers of independent, UK-based brewers over the last 20 years, and resulting choice in high quality beers for consumers.
We have always been concerned about the proposal of removing relief from the smallest brewers and maintained that this should not happen without broad industry consensus – it is clear from the reaction to the proposal to reduce the level at which a brewery receives full relief from 5,000HL to 2,100HL that consensus has not been achieved.
Furthermore, we do not believe that the Treasury’s intention to increase the scale of production over which the relief is applied by reducing the lower threshold is the correct way to reform Small Brewers’ Relief. This not only removes relief from the smallest brewers in order to allow more relief to be provided to larger brewers, but also comes at a time of great financial insecurity for brewers, many of whom did not receive direct financial support from Government during the Coronavirus lockdown.
CAMRA are therefore asking that the government:
• Publishes the evidence of how it arrived at the preferred approach of lowering the point at which a brewery receives full SBR support from 5,000HL to 2,100HL
• Releases the full details of its preferred approach to taxing small brewers at all levels of production, ahead of the further technical consultation
• Changes the preferred approach to reinstate the 5,000HL threshold up to which a brewery will continue to receive full relief
We believe that the ‘cliff-edge’ of the relief curve should be smoothed by increasing the range of production covered through an increase to the top threshold, rather than the removal of full duty relief at the bottom end of the production scale.
We remain hopeful that the industry can find agreement on what reforms to the relief curve above the 5,000HL threshold should look like, in order to remove current disincentives to growth, and promote healthy competition, cask beer, and consumer choice.
We urge you to rethink the Government’s preferred approach to ensure that no small brewer is worse of as a result of reform to Small Brewers’ Relief, and we hope that further details will be published soon.
Nik Antona, CAMRA National Chairman
Tom Stainer, CAMRA Chief Executive