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Harvey's statement in response to proposed changes in SBR (Small Brewer's Relief)

Harvey’s Statement

When SBR was first introduced in the UK most brewers would have wished for a bolder, far reaching system that parallelled the support for smaller brewers and local economies in other European countries. Instead we saw a truncated system operating under one of the highest duty rates in Europe. The situation was rendered worse, in 2008, when the escalator was introduced, increasing beer duty each year by 2% above the level of inflation. Between 2008 to 2012 beer duty increased by 42% and, therefore, greatly increased the benefit for any brewer claiming 50% relief and operating within the 5khl band. Conversely, the steep increase in beer duty beyond this level appeared to discourage growth and development.

There are always unintended consequences of government intervention and it is difficult to address them when other demands weigh heavily on ministers’ time. During a, long overdue, Treasury review all interested parties have had the opportunity to submit their concerns and suggestions for a fairer system. These have been evaluated and an initial announcement has been made. It is not the end of the matter and there will be many representations in the months ahead. Whatever solution is finally resolved, it must encourage growth in all sectors of the industry by means of a fair market place.

For the record, we have experienced a 30% drop in production levels between December 2010-December 2019 and our tied estate accounted for 11.6% of our beer sales in 2019. We are grateful recipients of SBR. That said, we have fought our corner to remain viable and compete in an ever challenging market. This has not been easy on a heritage site that does not lend itself to economies of scale.

We have nurtured and assisted many new brewing companies over the past forty years and continue to do so. They are the lifeblood of the industry. However, with the greatest respect, no sector of our industry has a right to demand that it is immune to change. There is a greater goal, to maintain diversity and opportunity, in which we should all participate.

Please be assured of our best intentions.

For further enquiries please contact us and these will be responded to directly by either Miles Jenner or Hamish Elder, our Joint Managing Directors.

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