Craft breweries under threat due to UK Government plans warns MP

Small breweries could face higher costs under UK Government plans
The future of craft breweries is at risk, the SNP are warningThe future of craft breweries is at risk, the SNP are warning
The future of craft breweries is at risk, the SNP are warning

Small start-up breweries are at risk of being ‘pushed to the brink’ by reforms proposed by the UK Government, an SNP MP has warned.

Owen Thompson, who represents Midlothian – home to several successful craft breweries including Stewart Brewery and Cross Borders Brewing Company – said the move is a threat to small breweries.

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Current UK Government plans will see the threshold from which firms are entitled to the full value of tax relief from alcohol duty when breweries sell their product reduce, which the SNP and industry groups such as the Society of Independent Brewers say will lead to higher financial costs for small breweries.

In response, SNP MPs have written to the environment, food and rural affairs secretary George Eustice urging him to work with industry groups and cancel the plans.

Mr Thompson said: "Scotland's small brewery industry has been recovering and growing in recent years, and as many navigate through the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis, support needs to be strengthened to secure their future and to protect jobs.

"However, the UK government's proposed plans to reduce the threshold at which Small Brewers Duty Relief starts to taper from 5,000hl of annual production to 2,100hl, is a dangerous move which risks pushing many small breweries to the brink and shutting down for good.

"This relief has played a key role in the resurgence of the brewing industry in Scotland, which by some estimates is now worth around £500m in turnover each year to the Scottish economy and supports over 8,000 jobs.

"That is now all at risk with the proposed changes to SBR and announcement of a consultation detailing the new measures and taper levels.

"The move has already caused widespread concern across the small brewing industry, with the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) outlining counter proposals to protect small breweries. It is critical that if the UK government does not want to see the collapse of many small breweries then it engages with SIBA and MPs.

"The relief in its current form is vital in helping smaller craft brewers compete in the marketplace dominated by large and global brewers."

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