SIBA says its members, trying to compete with regional and national breweries, are at a serious disadvantage. The larger economies of scale allow the big boys to offer discounts that the small brewers cannot match. This has handicapped small brewers in all areas of the pub trade, but especially in the escalating pub-chain sector, which is increasingly important but is highly discount-sensitive.
In most other European Union States a sliding scale of duty is in place, and SIBA says that the British government has dodged its obligation to introduce a progressive system of taxation in Britain, despite the Monopolies and Mergers Commission recommendations in 1989.
The Treasury's review of all questions about liquor duty, promised in the Labour Government's first Budget, provides the ideal opportunity for a change.