A story of Small Brewers Duty Relief,a Surrey brewery & Michael Gove

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2020 by kmflett

A story of the Small Brewers Duty Relief, a Surrey brewery & Michael Gove

The Government has announced plans to review Small Brewers Duty Relief. A period of consultation will now occur but the intention is to help larger regional to national brewers and impact negatively on smaller, often craft brewers.

A very good explanation of what it all means can be found in this piece by Jonny Garrett

A note of caution about what follows. This is NOT a story about some kind of conspiracy or something done underhand. Rather this is a story about class and politics. All the quotes and links below are freely available on the internet. The point is to understand what they mean

Responding to Tory MP Angela Leadsom in a Commons debate (Daily Express 24th November 2016) Michael Gove MP said:

“Food and drink production has flourished under your leadership.

“As we have just heard, record levels of hard cheese and sour grapes are emanating from that side of the chamber.

“In my own constituency, the Hogs Back Brewery, a very successful micro-brewery, is doing a roaring trade.

“Could I invite you to join me for a knees-up in my brewery, something the other side of the House could never organise?”

Mrs Leadsom replied: “Yes – absolutely be delighted to do that.”

The brewery concerned was Hogs Back. Mr Gove published on his constituency website details of a no doubt enjoyable visit.

Hogs Back has been one of the leading breweries lobbying for a change to the Small Brewers Duty Relief. When the proposed change was announced the owner said:

Such unexpected great news that the brewing industry hasn’t been forgotten during the year of crisis. A 15-year struggle to get a review, however small, is a momentous day and hopefully we can now unify as an industry to move on together and have fewer restraints to growth.”

Rupert Thompson, Owner, Hogs Back Brewery

In October 2016 Michael Gove was asking a Parliamentary question about what plans there were to review the Duty Relief

He returned to the subject in the Commons on 18 Oct 2018, then responding himself to a question from another MP

My hon. Friend does brilliant work as the chairman of the all-party beer group, and he is absolutely right to say that we must look at beer duty. In particular, a case has been forcefully made for looking at duty relief for small brewers in order to maximise growth in that sector, so that we can all enjoy great British beer.

Clearly Hogs Back and others had lobbied the Government and influential MPs for a change to Duty Relief and this has now been successful.

Rupert Thompson is perhaps right to be surprised because while the Conservative Party is meant to be the Party of business recently this has often seemed to mean business globally rather than specifically Britain.

The Tories have traditionally had links to larger breweries and at least one of those who lobbied for Duty Relief to change, Robinsons of Stockport has donated money to the Party (but not much!)

James Calder of SIBA which represents many smaller craft brewers has complained that he thought the Government was on the side of small business. I presume (and hope) this was a campaigning point rather than something he actually thinks is true.

The potential changes to Small Brewers Duty Relief are a reminder that the Government is on the side of larger business particularly when effective lobbying such as that of Mr Thompson reminds it that it is supposed to be.

Michael Gove lives in West London and is believed to be a craft beer drinker…

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