MPs sound SOS for pubs on beer tax

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Government back-benchers yesterday urged Chancellor George Osborne to slash beer taxes in a bid to help community pubs across the country.

But 15 days before the Budget, Treasury minister Sajid Javid said he could do little more than promise the MPs that the government was aware of concerns on the alcohol duty escalator, which increases taxes on beer above inflation.

Raising a debate in Westminster Hall, Tory Marcus Jones, MP for Nuneaton, said the Chancellor should scrap the escalator to help preserve pubs and slow down the rate of closures.

He said: “This is also having a very detrimental effect on the fabric of our society, because there is a high social impact when a pub closes.

“Our pubs offer a unique leisure experience and they are a great addition to the social fabric of our country. They are often at the heart of our local communities and they are akin to community centres for their areas.

Mr Jones said up to 10,000 jobs could be lost through the impact of the escalator.

Mr Javid said he could not give any firm commitments, but highlighted a range of things the government had done to support pubs, such as reforms to gaming machines.