An Urgent Call to Action from SIBA’s Chairman and Chief Executive
Parliamentary Debate on Beer Duty
Thursday, 1st November
11.45 – 2.45 (approximate times)
If you do only one thing today, please lobby your MP to attend the Beer Duty Debate taking place in the House of Commons on 1st November.
Securing the debate is a tremendous achievement by everyone who signed or got involved in the ‘Save Your Pint’ campaign. It is only the 12th e-petition ever to reach the required 100,000 signatures. This is an historic event for beer and pubs, and a unique opportunity to change beer taxation – so let’s seize it.
The outcome we want from next week’s debate is the Government’s agreement to review beer duty before the next Budget. Filling the House of Commons next Thursday will show the Chancellor that the issue of beer duty has widespread support and cannot be ignored any longer.
What you can do
Contact your MP – the sooner the better. There isn’t time to send a letter, so please fire off an email or, even better, pick up the phone to your MP, as the most effective way to present your case. For your MP’s contact details, visit: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
We have sent all members a template email containing background on beer duty and the disastrous consequences of the successive hikes imposed over recent years. However, you need to give your MP personalised, not general, information.
Tell him/her how beer duty is hurting people in their constituency – people on whose votes they depend! If the pubs that sell your beer continue to close, what will that do to your brewery? If you close, how many jobs will be lost to local people? How many local suppliers will lose business from you? And a pub closure is a social as well as an economic loss to its community.
Keeping it local, with real examples, makes it more powerful – and will make for a more engaging and successful debate in Westminster next week.
An additional note might draw attention to the positive economic effects of investment, in the form of Small Breweries Relief, as an alternative to the blunt policy of taxation hikes – as set out in this year’s SIBA ‘Local Beer’ Brewing Industry Report; http://siba.co.uk/Local%20Beer%20Reports/LBR-2012.pdf
Some of you will be well placed geographically to highlight the fundamental inequalities in duty structures between beer and cider (and wine). And we can all point out the cultural and harm-reducing benefits of alcohol consumption within the environment of the community pubs that are now so threatened by duty escalation.
Follow up initial contact with social media – many MPs have embraced Twitter/Facebook. See a list of MP twitter feeds at http://tweetminster.co.uk/mps
If you have a pub, can you broadcast the debate live on screen? It is, after all, relevant to everyone in the pub – customers who are paying 13 times as much tax on beer than German drinkers or employees worrying about whether theirs will be one of the 12 pubs a week to close.
Contact your local media. Like a full House on Thursday, widespread media coverage will show public support for the debate. We have sent all members a template news release for you to personalise – note, however, that the debate is taking place BEFORE most weekly newspapers are published, so think about more immediate media – daily papers, local radio and websites.
Please lend whatever support you can between now and next Thursday. We are unlikely to have another opportunity like this, so it is surely worth taking time out of running your company, or brewery, or pub. Without drastic action now on beer duty, there may not be many breweries or pubs left to run.
Finally, please feed back any response from MPs or others to us, as we may be able to use it in our ongoing PR around the debate.
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