Thank you for getting in touch with me about cutting beer duty as a result of the pandemic. I share your concern about the future of pubs and the hardship caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
For only the second time in 20 years every alcohol duty has been frozen, meaning that this freeze covers duty on spirits, beer, wine, and cider.
The Government has offered extensive support to the industry throughout the pandemic. Steps have been taken by HMRC to make it easier to claim back the duty on any beer thrown away as a result of pub closures were a timely and sensible intervention.
There has also been a temporary cut to VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for all food and non-alcoholic drinks, which initially applied from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021, but has been extended to 31 March 2021. This will continue to support restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises across the UK. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has supported thousands of businesses and help protect the jobs of over a million employees. Pubs, restaurants and others that participated will be fully reimbursed for the discount by the Government.
No pub or other business in the hospitality sector will be required to pay business rates last year. Local authorities applied the rates relief automatically and no action was required by pub rate payers.
There is a broad recognition of the need to reform the current duty system to support the alcoholic drinks and pubs sector in the longer term and I am glad the government is currently reviewing evidence and feedback on how well the alcohol duty system currently works and how it could be reformed. You can read more about this here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/alcohol-duty-review-call-for-evidence