Pubs play a crucial role in the social, cultural, and economic life of this country, and also help promote responsible drinking. I believe, therefore, that it is vital that the pub sector gets the support it needs to flourish.
You are right to highlight the importance to the pub sector of fair duties for beer and other alcoholic drinks. I am pleased, therefore, that this Conservative UK Government has done much to provide relief in this area. In 2013, the UK Government abolished the alcohol duty ‘escalator’, which was introduced by the previous Labour Government and had led to punitive tax rises.
Likewise, in the most recent budget, the UK Government froze alcohol duties, which will save consumers 12p on a pint of beer, and £1.15 on a bottle of whisky, in 2019. I applaud these common sense policies, which are vital not only for the pub sector, but also for our world-class breweries and distilleries, and for consumers.
There are many other aspects of policy relating to the pub sector, and many of these are the responsibility of the Scottish Government. Unfortunately, however, the SNP-led Scottish Government has failed to support our pubs. For example, due to the Scottish Government’s failure on business rates, Scottish businesses are now having to pay £14 million more in tax than they would if they were based in England. I trust that my Scottish Conservative colleagues in Holyrood will continue to hold the Scottish Government to account, and will stand up for Scottish pubs.