Dawn Primarolo's reply to constituents on the subject of beer duty:
"Thank you for contacting me recently regarding beer duty ahead of this year’s Budget.
I do appreciate concerns regarding the very serious challenges that are currently facing the pub and beer industry and I recognise that community pubs often play a vital part in neighbourhoods across the country. I understand the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimates around 30 pubs close every week in the UK and this loss is not only felt by local communities but by our economy as a whole in terms of jobs, trade and taxation.
As you will probably know, yesterday’s Budget included a cut to beer duty of 1p per pint. Any support for people struggling with the cost of living crisis is welcome, but my view is that the Government must do much more to support local pubs and households at this difficult time than to simply offer a penny off a pint of beer - a 'buy 300 pints, get 1 free' policy. It should also not be forgotten that the Government's decision to increase VAT to 20% has added more to the price of a pint since 2011 than the beer duty escalator.
We require a more comprehensive approach to support consumers and struggling community pubs. One of the areas this should address - along with providing a fairer relationship between pubcos and their tenants - is the current lack of protection that community pubs have in the planning system, which has contributed to pubs being converted into supermarkets, takeaways and payday lending shops without having to gain planning permission. Unfortunately the Government's approach to this has been wholly inadequate. In January Labour MPs supported an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill that would have required developers to seek planning permission before a pub could be demolished or converted to another use. Disappointingly the Government rejected this and I know concerns remain that the Government has still not given planning protection for all pubs.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.
Labour MP for Bristol South"