Sheffield MP warns small breweries are at risk from government cuts

The subsidy was introduced in 2002 to help small brewers exist in a market dominated by multinational companies. 

Small breweries in Sheffield which have been hit hard by the pandemic are facing another blow with Government plans to cut subsidies.

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake is working with brewers and campaigners to stop proposed cuts to the Small Brewers Relief.

The subsidy was introduced in 2002 to help small brewers exist in a market dominated by multinational companies. 

It is widely credited for being the reason why such a diverse craft beer industry has flourished in the UK over the past 20 years.

Hallam constituency is home to a number of breweries in Bradfield, Crosspool and Loxley.

Bradfield Brewery, a family-run business, was established in 2005 and is one of the largest breweries in Sheffield.

Sheffield has 27 functioning brewing companies, more per head of population than any other UK city. 

These vary from long-established breweries like Abbeydale, Bradfield and Kelham Island, to newer breweries, like Little Mesters, Lost Industry and Loxley. 

Ms Blake has tabled a Parliamentary motion calling on the government to reverse the proposed cuts. 

She said: "Covid-19 is having a huge impact on small breweries in Hallam and across the country. Right now sales have fallen by 80 per cent and two small breweries are going out of business every week. 

"At this critical time, when small breweries so desperately need more support, the government is proposing cuts which will threaten the whole industry. 

"I'm calling on the government to rethink this damaging plan, and am working with breweries in my constituency as well as national campaign groups to hold the government to account over this."

Dave Pickersgill of Sheffield and District Campaign for Real Ale said the changes would mean around 150 small brewers paying more tax.

"The Government should be providing more support to our vibrant small brewing sector to aid its recovery, rather than planning on withdrawing tax relief from some of the smallest operators, brewers who are vital to maintaining consumer choice in the beer market," he said.

In response, A HM Treasury spokesperson said: "After extensive consultation on Small Brewers' Relief, we've taken the decision to reform the way the relief works to help more businesses in the sector grow.

''Over 80% of businesses will be unaffected by these changes and we're consulting with industry on technical design of the reforms."