Published: 09:33, 08 July 2019
| Updated: 09:35, 08 July 2019
A leading independent brewery has signed a letter to the two candidates vying to become the next Prime Minister, calling on them to back reform for the sector.
The Ramsgate Brewery is one of a number of firms to put their name to a letter from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) calling on both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to back small British independent brewers.
It wants both to rule out any reductions in Small Breweries' Relief (SBR) and back positive reform. It comes as the Treasury is currently reviewing the situation.
SBR, also sometimes known as progressive beer duty, allows small brewers to pay a more proportional rate of duty on their beer.
This allows, says SIBA, small professional brewing businesses to compete with global brewers who dominate the marketplace.
A brewer up to 5,000 hectolitres (around 880,000 pints) of production per year pays 50% of the standard duty rate. Above 5,000hl a year, the rate at which brewers pay on the standard duty rate tapers down until 60,000hl – whereby the full standard duty rate is applied.
Says Eddie Gadd, director at Ramsgate Brewery, best known for its Gadds beer range: "Our brewery was established in 2002 to serve the east Kent pub market with fresh, local beer, something it hadn't had for decades, and it now employs 11 local people.
"At around 5000hl per year we are not big enough to enjoy the benefits of any scale and any profit we do make is absorbed into reinvesting in our facility.
"A cut in SBR at the 5000hl level would result in job losses, and a 'smoothing of the curve', as proposed by SIBA would enable us to grow and create more jobs."
Adds James Calder, SIBA chief executive: "Breweries are incredibly important to local economies across the UK and politicians are rightly engaged, with around a third of MPs having visited their local brewery in the last 12 months.
"We’re now calling for the help of those same Members of Parliament, and the Tory leadership hopefuls, to back British independent beer and tell the Treasury to commit to no reduction in relief for Britain’s independent brewers.
“SIBA is resolute that no small brewer should lose any duty relief as the result of reform, as any reductions threaten jobs, investment and consumer choice, which is why SIBA will continue to defend SBR at current levels whilst lobbying for positive reform."
"Breweries are incredibly important to local economies across the UK."
SIBA argues that above 5,000hl of production, the rate at which relief is withdrawn is far too steep and acts as a barrier to growth. It says with a modest investment of around £9m from Treasury, the next Prime Minister could "turbocharge the UK brewing scene", smoothing that curve and incentivising further jobs, growth, investment "and most importantly, great beer".