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Call for beer duty cut as near £6bn Covid sales losses revealed

Beer sales fell in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic as people shunned pubs and drank wine and spirits at home instead.

Pubs, bars and restaurants lost beer sales revenue totalling £5.7bn in 2021, according to the latest British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) figures.

The trade body said pubs and clubs served the equivalent of 1.4bn fewer pints.

The BBPA attributes the shift to periods of restricted pub trading, the location where beer is by far the most popular drink, along with a rise in at-home drinking.

The findings come as Treasury ministers begin considering responses to a consultation on simplifying the alcohol duty system with the intention to link duty rates to the alcoholic strength of drinks categories.

The trade body called on the government to cut beer duty to help it recover from the effects of the pandemic restrictions.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Every unsold pint is a stark reminder of the dislocating effect Covid restrictions had on our sector and the communities our pubs sit at the heart of.

“Our analysis showing falling beer consumption supports the Treasury’s stated objective to incentivise lower-strength products and differentiate beer from stronger wine and spirts as part of planned reforms to the alcohol duty system.

“We must again ask ministers to go further and support our recovery by continuing to reduce the punitive tax burden on our sector to ensure the sustainability of brewing and pubs.”

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