Leaders from the pub and brewing sector are calling for a freeze in beer duty in the next Budget after revealing more than 20,000 jobs in Kent depend on the industry.
The 1,398 pubs and 25 breweries in the county pay wages of nearly £300m – the largest chunk of which goes to under 25s – according to a study by economic experts Oxford Economics for the British Beer & Pub Association.
The research reveals the industry adds £586.7m to the Kent economy and generates £227.4m in tax revenue.
It is estimated that one job in brewing generates another job in agriculture, another job in the supply chain, another in retailing and 18 in pubs.
Yet experts say more needs to be done to arrest a decline in jobs from 2008 to 2013, when beer tax increased by 42% and beer sales fell 21%.
Nationally 7,000 pubs closed and 58,000 jobs were lost in that period, prompting the government to scrap a planned 3p rise in beer duty in the Budget last year, replacing it with a 1p cut in the price of a pint.
In a motion submitted to the Commons, the Beer and Pub Association is calling for a freeze in beer duty to protect jobs and boost investment when George Osborne delivers the Budget on Wednesday, March 19.
More than 20,000 jobs in Kent depend on the brewing industry
The study suggests a beer duty freeze in 2014/15 would cost the Treasury £4m.
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Beer and pubs provide huge numbers of local jobs, especially for young people.
“Last year’s duty cut made a real difference, saving jobs across the country, boosting investment and increasing confidence. Yet, so much of this good work will be undone if beer duty rises again.
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds
“We need a duty freeze in the Budget, and I hope all MPs will make the case for beer, pubs and jobs, and support Early Day Motion 892 in Parliament.”
Drinkers are most likely to get a pint in the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe, where there are 114 pubs.
Most breweries in Kent are found in the constituencies of Canterbury and Tonbridge and Malling, which have four each.
Only 14,598 of the 21,927 people employed by the beer and pub sector in Kent are employed directly by pubs. Of these 47% (6,921) are under 25 and 52% (7,818) are part time.
Faversham-based Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame – who is also chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association – said: “Thanks to last year’s support from the Chancellor, brewers are investing: in their plant; in new products; and in people.
“We have made significant improvements to our Kent pubs and hotels, such as the Shakespeare in Canterbury and the Botany Bay Hotel in Kingsgate.
“Meanwhile, the brewery has also benefited from the installation of a Water Recovery Plant at a cost of £3.5m.
“A freeze on beer duty would help to perpetuate the confidence that has been restored to our sector. This will lead to new jobs and increased investment in the county.”
Nationally, beer and pubs contribute £22bn to the UK economy and generate £12bn in tax revenue.
The beer and pub sector supports more than 900,000 jobs, 46% of which are held by 16 to 24 year olds.
Of the beer sold in Britain, 82% is made in the country.
Kent County Council delivers its budget tomorrow. For live updates visit KentOnline.co.uk or on Twitter follow @Kent_Online or KM Group political editor Paul Francis on @PaulonPolitics.