Leeds pubs, bars and restaurants could be bear the brunt of a £100m Government tax hike on alcohol, it is claimed.
City businesses are backing the Call Time on Duty campaign against the potential rise, which campaigners say has been uncovered through the Government’s own revenue forecasts.
It is thought that Chancellor George Osborne may saddle traders nationwide with an extra £100m tax bill in March’s Budget statement through the alcohol duty escalator – dubbed the alcohol super tax.
Martin Wolstencroft, managing director of the Arc Inspirations LLP bar group which runs 10 bars in the region, including the Arc in Headingley and the Pit in the city centre, said rises in prices of energy, automatic pension enrollment and a shortage of wheat mean that such a tax hike could lead to higher bar prices when customers are “feeling the pinch” already.
He told the YEP: “Our industry has faced huge challenges from the competition of supermarkets and a ‘stay at home’ culture where alcohol has been sold as loss leaders.
“We need more help from the Government to get more people out and about and help grow the economy not hinder its growth.”
The Call Time On Duty campaign, led by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the Scotch Whisky Association and The TaxPayers’ Alliance, is calling for the Chancellor to scrap the alcohol duty escalator in the March Budget to help British businesses.
Independent research from Ernst & Young, which is cited by campaigners, has found that removing the escalator would actually boost Government finances by £230m and create around 6,000 new jobs.
John Rowe, chairman of Leeds Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), is also manager of The Grove Inn, in Holbeck.
He said: “These are small businesses with not any great united voice for this and therefore an easy target. The pub trade is tough enough.”
It is thought pubs, bars and restaurants already contribute £3.5bn in alcohol duty every year.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “Calling a halt to the alcohol super tax and ending the duty escalator will help businesses, improve Government finances and create jobs”
Call Time on Duty is urging supporters to email their MP and ask them to write to Mr Osborne opposing the tax. Visit www.calltimeonduty.co.uk for details.