Beer tax cuts can benefit everyone

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It’s Hoppy Hour with our ale expert Andrew Nowell...

Ale enthusiasts are once again putting pressure on the Government to cut beer tax once more - and they are armed with a handy bit of new research.

A one-penny cut in beer duty was announced for three successive years between 2013 and 2015, and that was followed up with a tax freeze last year.

Pressure is now being put on chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond to follow the ale-friendly example of his predecessor in 11 Downing Street George Osborne and reduce the tax burden.

Anyone looking to counter arguments that this is just a self-interested lobbying group looking for special pleading can put a handy ace up their sleeves, in the form of some new scientific findings.

A report in the snappily-titled journal Adaptive Human Behaviour and Psychology officially found going to a good local watering hole definitively boosts health and wellbeing.

Actual peer-reviewed research, rather than just the anecdotal evidence of someone seated in an armchair next to a roaring fire with a glass of mild or best bitter in hand, found those who visited a pub regularly felt happier and had more trust in their neighbours.

Even better for pub enthusiasts, the team at Oxford University found drinkers in city centre bars had shorter conversations and engaged less with those they spoke to compared to their compatriots down the local inn.

What is interesting about this is that ale enthusiasts appear to have instinctively grasped this.

Over the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of micropubs and small-scale freehouses. Often these shun TVs and music so drinkers can concentrate on good conversation with fellow enthusiasts rather than staring silently at a screen or being deafened by a blasting speaker system.

Now the psychology experts seem to have concluded they were really onto something, rather than just indulging some retro, trendy whim.

With this new knowledge in mind the next job, surely, must be to protect this vital source of wellbeing. Handily, the tax cut campaign provides the chance to do just that.

Camra reckons the beer duty cuts and freezes have already saved 21,000 jobs, keeping countless of those oh-so-important community hubs and centres for boosting wellbeing open.

But more could be done: at 52p per pint, the current tax level in Britain is still far from a level playing field with some of the world’s other major brewing nations.

Camra and other industry bodies are now writing to MPs urging a cut, but parliamentarians can be swayed still further by a big postbag sent in by their worried constituents.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) certainly thinks so and has launched a website dedicated to getting beer tax down and making it easier for everyone to contact their political representatives.

To find out more or write to the borough’s MPs, visit www.cutbeertax.co.uk