Tag: beer

These days, I edit and write for Liberal Democrat Voice, formally as Friday editor and but also at other times as news breaks or topics need to be discussed. This week has been typically busy, with zombie pubcos and vampire railways in the frame, as well as the vital issue of biodiversity offsetting. First up was an attack on the pubcos. These are the companies that took over large number of pubs in the 1990s. Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland raised the issue in a hard hitting speech in the Commons on Monday night and I reflected: QUOTE: Four years ago, I cried when the tenants of my local were forced out by a pubco. They’d had a brilliant first year. They’d made the pub a hub for the local folk scene and helped breathe new life into the community. But on New Year’s Day, their rent doubled. That was the price the pubco levied on their success, and it was an impossible demand. The pubco accountants cared not. The pub has struggled ever since. It’s up for sale, facing closure. Read: Casked Crusader battles zombie enterprises over “Great British Pubco Scam”. On Friday, I tackled the seemingly obscure topic…

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Among the tangle of announcements in Wednesday’s Budget was a statement to cheer the heart of real ale drinkers everywhere. As the Chancellor announced it: “We will now scrap the beer duty escalator altogether. And instead of the 3p rise in beer duty tax planned for this year I am cancelling it altogether. That’s the freeze people have been campaigning for. But I’m going to go one step further and I am going to cut beer duty by 1p. We’re taking a penny off a pint. The cut will take effect this Sunday night and I expect it to be passed on in full to customers.” George Osborne is of course entirely naïve in believing that a one penny cut in the price of a £3 pint will be passed on to the customers. How do you make a 1p cut to a commodity priced in 10p units? But expecting that level of reality from a Chancellor of Exchequer these days is perhaps far too much. Beer is so important here in Shropshire. Around 4,800 are employed in our 651 pubs, and many more in our 18 breweries. They underpin much of the tourist industry – not only by serving…

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Struggling publicans will soon be able to appeal to independent adjudicator Vince Cable, Lib Dem Business Secretary announced yesterday. I’ll raise a glass to that! Pubs are at the heart of British life. They are infinitely varied, unlike the monotonous American style cafés that are invading our cities and even our small towns. Sitting in a Starbucks or Costa, you could be anywhere in the world. That’s not the case with the great British pub. Each bar is a unique experience. Landlords, landladies and managers up and down the land (mostly) serve beer to perfection. They dish out excellent food. They charm and entertain their customers, politely showing them door when they have outstayed their welcome. Pubs are at the heart of communities, especially in our villages where they are often the only service remaining. The humble pub sign was even voted the number one icon of England in a 2008 poll conducted by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. But this idyllic view of the great British pub gets further from reality with every year that passes. Too many pubs are struggling, and eighteen a week are closing. There are a whole host of reasons why pubs are in…

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On Wednesday upward of a thousand enthusiasts descended on Westminster to demand protection for one of the nation’s great heritage assets. Beer. The Labour government of old was unduly fond of price and tax escalators, which generally take the form of retail price index plus a bit more. I have always regarded this as a rather odd fiscal mechanism because it simply creates a circularity that feeds itself. Costs go up, the RPI duly rises, and costs go up again as a result. It beats me why the coalition has decided to maintain this blunt policy. Fiscal escalators might be acceptable in times of plenty, but as the economy bounces in and out of recession the circularity begins to consume itself. If prices are raised when money and credit is scarce, people buy less. Businesses are undermined by struggling sales and rising costs. Tax revenues fall and welfare payments rise. People buy less, and the circularity spirals downwards. This brings us back to beer. The escalator adds 2% plus inflation to beer duty. There has been a 42% increase in duty in just four years and tax is now around one-third of the price of pint. The result is that…

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