Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, took the opportunity to stand up for the Ribble Valley’s 100 pubs during a Backbench Business Debate on Beer Taxation in the House of Commons Chamber last Thursday. The debate was organised by the Chair of the Parliamentary Beer Group, Mike Wood MP, and was well-attended by members on all sides of the House.
The pub and brewing sector is an integral part of the Ribble Valley’s economy, where 100 pubs and three breweries directly employ 1,722 people and raise £257 million in taxation. Several pubs in the Ribble Valley have received national acclaim, including The Parkers Arms in Newton and The Freemasons at Wiswell which won 'Pub of the Year' at the Great British Pub Awards in 2018.
Despite a freeze in beer duty during last year’s Autumn Budget after a successful campaign by Mr Evans, beer duty still remains one of the highest in Europe. Currently 32 pence of every pound spent in the pub goes directly to the taxman – an average of £140,000 per pub, per year. It is expected that a penny cut in beer duty next Budget would create 4,000 more jobs and be broadly revenue-neutral.
Speaking from the chamber, Mr Evans highlighted the importance of pubs to rural communities:
“I live in a rural village, and it is great when people can get together. Pubs do so much to raise funds for numerous charities, and they are a place for sporting groups—whether it is darts teams or football teams—to come together.”
“Pubs bring people together. The best way to see that is to go to a village where the only pub has closed. It tears the heart out of that village. I know the pressures that pubs are facing, whether due to business rates, which are crippling some small pubs, environmental standards—it is right that they have to meet those—or investment in new fridges.”
Further, Nigel expressed the economic contribution of UK pubs:
“Pubs generate a lot of economic activity, and not just through the sale of beer, which is a fantastic product. They provide jobs in rural areas where jobs can be scarce. In particular, they provide badly needed extra income for younger people who are perhaps at college and can be flexible with their time.
“Mention has been made of taxation on beer, which is huge. At £13 billion, it is massive. Almost 1 million jobs are provided by the industry. We need to look at ways of lowering that taxation. There is something wrong when taxation goes up, people drink less and less money actually goes to the Inland Revenue. There should be a common-sense approach to lower taxation, increase sales and ensure that HMRC gets more money out of that.”