H M Revenue & Customs have released figures suggesting that a tenth of all beer sold in the UK is avoiding duty. Now, that seems like an overestimate to me, and Brigid Simmons of the BBPA agrees. The real figure, I would guess, is probably around half of that. But it’s still a lot of beer, and a lot of lost duty.
Ms Simmons is of course entirely right to argue that the remedy does not lie in imposing further costly and restrictive controls on the legitimate brewing industry, and indeed is staring us in the face:
But we also need to remember a key driver of this tax gap – the eye-watering rates of beer duty in Britain, relative to our neighbours. Britain levies 40% of the entire EU beer duty bill, and over five times more beer tax in total, than the biggest beer market, Germany. It would be totally unfair if a problem driven by punitive rates of tax resulted in more huge costs being heaped onto British brewers.