TWO Southampton breweries have slammed the Government's plan to reduce alcohol duty – with one branding it a "kick in the teeth".

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a raft of changes to alcohol duties during his Budget speech on Wednesday.

It included a 5% cut to the tax on draught beer and cider from containers over 40 litres.

But this is not helpful to smaller businesses, Donncha Burke, head brewer at Tap It in Northam, told the Echo.

"We are shocked about the reduction in duty announcement, that it is blatantly aimed at big breweries like Heiniken," he said.

"Most craft breweries like ourselves package predominantly in 20L and 30L kegs, but the 5% reduction only applies to 50L kegs which is what most macro lagers and ciders are sold in.

"They stipulated packages over 40L, so it really is a kick in the teeth for small producers like ourselves."

Local Produce Show at St Marys Stadium orgainsed by Business South. Joe Cleave and Will Keeble from Tap It Brewing based in Southampton.

Local Produce Show at St Mary's Stadium orgainsed by Business South. Joe Cleave and Will Keeble from Tap It Brewing based in Southampton.

Mr Sunak promised the changes to alcohol duty will bring the cost of a pint in the pub down by 3p "permanently".

Jimmy Hatherley, founder and head brewer of Unity, based in Northam, agrees with Mr Burke.

"It was of course very welcome to see a reduction (however small) on duty for draft beer, however like everything with this Government, it has come short and is set to benefit the large corporate breweries much more than the small independent ones," he said.

"The majority of draft beer from independent breweries comes in 30L kegs, 10L short of the governments reduction of beer packaged in containers larger than 40L. Yet again another government 'hand-out' that squeezes the bottom whilst helping out those that don't need it.

"It is true however that those breweries producing traditional cask beer in nine gallon 'firkins' (of which we are unfortunately not) will benefit from this but as these breweries have historically relied on on-trade sales, they have been the worst hit during the pandemic so it will barely touch the sides of helping these business come back to full health."

The changes, which will take effect from 1 February 2023, are in full:

  • The number of duty rates on alcoholic drinks will be cut from 15 to six - "the stronger the drink, the higher the rate", Mr Sunak said
  • All drinks above 8.5% ABV will pay the same rate of duty
  • Fruit ciders and low alcohol spirit drinks, such as G&T in a can, below 3.5% ABV will have lower rates
  • A new Small Producer Relief will give tax reliefs to small brewers and distillers of beer, cider (for the first time) and other alcoholic drinks less than 8.5% ABV
  • Sparkling wine's 28% premium duty will be cut so it is the same as still wine of equivalent strength
  • An alcohol duty rate rise will be cancelled from Wednesday