Beer Sales Fall Over Summer 'Due To Tax'
The beer industry claims taxes are crippling sales following revelations almost 120 million fewer pints were drunk over the summer, despite the Euro 2012 football championship and the Olympic Games.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said sales of beer in pubs fell 4.8% in the quarter to September while supermarkets and off-license sales were down by 6.5%.
It blamed taxes for the 5.6% overall reduction and said there was an urgent need to freeze the beer duty escalator.
The Government's controversial policy means increases of 2% above inflation until 2014/15.
The BBPA warned that the reduction in sales was hitting Government revenues as well as jobs.
It said beer prices have endured an "astonishing" 42% tax hike since the 2%-above inflation escalator was introduced in 2008.
There is pressure for a full Parliamentary debate on the impact of beer taxes, following a petition signed by over 100,000 people which demanded Government action on the issue.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "If the Government wants to encourage growth, back British business and support local communities, then it must end the beer duty escalator."
A Treasury spokesman responded: "The Government hugely values the economic contribution made by pubs and breweries. We have introduced a range of tax measures that will help the alcohol industry, and pubs in particular.
"Cutting employers' national insurance contributions will make it cheaper for pubs to employ people on incomes of less than £21,000.
"The industry will also benefit from the reductions in corporation tax, fuel duty cut and extension of the small business rates relief holiday. Small beer producers are also benefiting from the small breweries relief.
"However, at a time when we are working hard to get down the deficit, alcohol duty revenues do make an important contribution to the public finances.
"Crucially, the Government has not made any changes beyond what was announced at the Budget in 2008," he said.