Surrey Hants Borders

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Small Brewers Relief

Wednesday 14 October 2020

A major campaign CAMRA is currently involved in is in relation to Small Brewers Tax Relief. It may seem strange to be focussing on a long standing tax scheme during a national crisis. However, now perhaps, more than ever improvements to the way small brewers are taxed may just help them to survive and conversely changes that disadvantage them might be the final nail in the coffin.

Small Brewers Relief was introduced in 2002 and currently applies to breweries producing up to 60,000HL per year. It is a progressive beer duty (meaning that smaller breweries pay less tax on their products), intended to support small brewers to grow and to compensate for the economies of scale enjoyed by larger and global brewers. It is widely considered to have been a success and is credited for the boom in brewery numbers. Nevertheless there is a general industry consensus that it should be reviewed as the levels of relief discourages brewers from growing and medium sized brewers can be squeezed as they don’t enjoy the level of relief of the smallest producers or the economies of scale of the larger and multinational brewers. Much of the campaign for change has been led by Rupert Thompson, owner of local brewery Hogs Back, who has argued that smaller brewers are overcompensated for economies of scale in the industry

In July Government announced that it has concluded its review and is proposing changes that will essentially take away tax relief from the brewers at the smaller end of the production scale to give more relief to larger ‘small’ brewers.

Having carefully considered both sides of the arguments CAMRA continues to believe that the Small Brewers’ Relief Scheme is vital to a thriving beer market, and to ensuring choice for consumers. However, we do not believe that removing relief from the smallest brewers should not happen without broad industry consensus and that the Government should publish evidence of how it arrived at the preferred approach of lowering the point at which a brewery receives the full relief from 5,000HL to 2,100HL . We do however remain committed to campaigning for an increase in the top threshold for relief to 200,000HL.

We are therefore supported a petition to reverse the change to Small Brewers Relief. When the petition closed it had attracted 51,609 signatures.

We want to make sure that there are no avoidable losses in the numbers of breweries in the UK, so that pub goers get more choice at the bar.