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Shepherd Neame hits out at beer tax rise

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Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame

More pubs are likely to close across Kent after the latest hike in beer duty, the boss of Shepherd Neame has warned.

Jonathan Neame, chief executive of the 300-year-old Faversham brewer, condemned the Chancellor of the Exchequer's decision to raise alcohol duty by two per cent in yesterday's Budget.

The move will put at least an extra penny on every pint.

The pub and brewing industry had been lobbying Whitehall hard to try and avert another rise, pointing out to Alistair Darling that six pubs a week were closing nationwide, jobs were going, and duty rises were partly to blame.

But it seems the pleas fell on deaf ears as Mr Darling announced the customary hike on alcohol, fuel and tobacco from midnight Wednesday.

Mr Neame said the decision was disappointing. "We've worked very hard in the industry putting forward the case that jobs will be lost," he said.

He said higher tax did not mean more money for the Treasury. "He's making less money and in January alone he got £70million less than last year." Up to 75,000 jobs could go in the industry over the next 10 years.

A penny on a pint did not sound much but the cumulative impact of regular increase was hard for the industry to bear. It had risen by some 20 per cent in the last year alone. A pint now cost between 10p and 15p a pint more than a year ago.

"It's more tough times ahead," he said. "There will be further pub closures within the county but I do think there is a huge passion for this industry from the general public, from licensees, from brewers and we shall just have to find new smarter ways to get our offer across to the customer."

* For more news from Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and Faversham visit kentishgazette.co.uk>>>

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