Ipswich: Thousands of jobs under threat from Chancellor George Osborne’s beer duty rise

ipswich: Fresh calls were made today to scrap the planned tax hike on beer after a new study revealed nearly 1,800 people in the town depend on pubs for work.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) published figures yesterday showing the “vital” role the industry played in the community and the economy.

In Ipswich, a total of 1,772 workers are reliant on its 85 pubs, which add more than �40m to the county town’s economy, claims the report.

The data places further pressure on Chancellor George Osborne as he prepares to lumber boozers with a 7 per cent rise in beer duty in next week’s Budget.

As previously revealed in The Evening Star, landlords claim the move will spell the end of locals as they battle to compete with cheap supermarket alcohol.

Adrian Smith, Ipswich Barwatch branch chairman and landlord of the Dove Street Inn, said: “The government will lose out in the long term because when a pub closes it means another business not paying VAT and more people claiming unemployment benefit rather than earning a wage and contributing income tax and national insurance.

“It’s not just about the loss of a pub, but it is also a social institution, expecially in rural areas. There will be nowhere to meet people – they will just stay at home.”

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Mr Smith said the tax rises should instead target stronger alcoholic products, which he believes are the main cause of drink-related problems.

“The whole thing about alcohol is not how much people are drinking, but what they are drinking,” he said. “The government needs to get people off the stronger content products. Drinks like Jagerbombs and shots of Tequila were unheard of years ago. If people got back on to draught beer, they wouldn’t consume as much because you become full and bloated more easily.”

On Saturday, we revealed how the last gay pub in the town, the Rose and Crown in Norwich Road, has become the latest victim of the financial squeeze.

Staff pulled the final pints at the weekend and there are now fears the gay community will have nowhere to drink as there are no other pubs to cater for them.

The research shows there are 706 pubs in Suffolk which employ 12,109 workers and generate �242m each year.

Nationally, nearly one million people depend on the industry, bringing in more than �21billion.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “These figures show what a huge impact beer and pubs have, especially in terms of local jobs.

“Beer is vital to the economy and pubs are the heart of our communities.

“The last thing local pubs and pubgoers need is a further beer tax hike when instead we could be leading the economy out of recession and creating local jobs. The government needs to think again.”

The BBPA said a 7pc rise in beer tax is forecast in the Budget because of the government’s beer duty escalator of a 2pc increase above inflation.

n Is your pub under threat? Are you disappointed by the demise of the Rose and Crown? Tell us your story. Call The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk