MP calls for higher alcohol duty for supermarkets to help local pubs

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura

Giles Watling, the Conservative MP for Clacton, is calling for different rates of duty on alcohol to stop supermarkets undercutting pubs with cheap booze.

Mr Watling raised the issue at Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons and was told by Boris Johnson that the Chancellor would be looking at the findings into the review of beer duty.

The MP told the Commons: "Pubs have been closing all over Britain for decades now, tearing the hearts out of communities. This terrible pandemic has made things even worse. Part of the problem is undercutting by cheap supermarket booze."

He called for differentiation of duty in favour of on-sales which he said "could deliver great benefits to pubs in communities such as Clacton, at nil cost to the taxpayer."

The Prime Minister said: "There is just such a review being carried out after consulting pub owners, brewers and others, and I know that the Chancellor is looking very closely at the findings."

  • The Clacton MP Giles Watling asked the Prime Minister to consider different rates of alcohol duty between pubs and supermarkets

The pandemic has left the pub and brewery sector greatly impacted by repeated lockdowns and social distance restrictions.

Orders have declined at the Humpty Dumpty Brewery at Reedham in Norfolk. Lesley George is a partner at the brewery and said that production has been cut by half: "Usually our cold room is jam packed full of beer but because of the Covid situation we have not been producing so much or selling to pubs." "We would normally be brewing two or three times a week at this time of they year so really it has been a massive hit." Lockdown meant Lesley was forced to throw beer away that couldn't be sold Since the start of the pandemic, the British Beer and Pub Association says up to 87 million pints of beer could have been thrown away because of pub closures. That's the equivalent of £331 million in sales. While hospitality venues have suffered, alcohol sales in supermarkets have boomed . The government is considering a cut in beer duty to get people back in pubs when lockdown ends But there are fears than any cut in alcohol duty may not find it way down to individual pubs

It is estimated that 87 million pints of beer may have been wasted because of pandemic lockdowns Credit: ITV News Anglia

Dawn Hopkins is the landlady at the Rose Inn in Norwich and says her pub doesn't have a big enough beer garden so she can't open until May Dawn said: "The cut on the beer duty is something for the brewers, something that needs to get passed on to the pubs."

Dawn has been campaigning for more help for pubs over the last year - help that can give businesses some vital breathing room

The Clacton MP Giles Watling asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson about different alcohol duty rates to help pubs. Credit: House of Commons

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak is due to present his second Budget on Wednesday 3 March. In the 2020 Budget, he froze duty rates on beer, wine, cider and spirits.