Beer lovers frothing with anger ahead of Budget

Politics is heading into British pubs and bars ahead of the Budget, as campaigners take on the steadily increasing cost of a pint of beer.

The chancellor is sticking with Labour's beer duty escalator, which sees the taxman's duty for each pint purchased in the UK increase two per cent above inflation each year.

Changes begun by Alistair Darling and continued by George Osborne have resulted in beer duty rising by 42% in the last four years, making the tax on beer in Britain the second highest in the EU.

Beer-lovers in Germany pay a tenth of the duty now imposed in the UK – hitting recession-hit Brits and contributing to the decline in the British pub.

The Campaign For Real Ale says over 5,800 pubs have closed since the escalator was increased in 2008.

"In opposition, Conservative and Lib Dem politicians were quick to decry the beer duty escalator for the burden it places on people wanting to enjoy a drink and the threat it poses to pubs up and down the country," TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) chief executive Matthew Sinclair said.

"They're now in a position to do something about it. The abolition of the beer duty escalator is long overdue and a freeze in the rate at this year's Budget would help people coping with so many other pressures on their finances."

TPA beermats explaining the cost of one pint in three now goes to the Treasury are being distributed to pints in towns and cities across the country.

New Treasury minister Sajid Javid said he was in "listening mode" when the issue was debated by the Commons last November, but did not indicate any immediate shift was imminent.

"The sad truth is that pubs have been closing for many years, and that decline has been influenced by many factors, not just alcohol duty," he told MPs.

"Lifestyles and consumer tastes are changing and individuals have increased choice in their leisure activities."

The chancellor will deliver the 2013 Budget on March 20th.