Small Brewer Duty Relief – Our View

Oakham Ales is a member of SBDRC and also a member of SIBA.

As our business has grown we’ve appreciated the benefits that Small Brewers Duty Relief has given in helping us invest in the expansion of our brewery, but we have felt for some time now that the scheme needed review and fine tuning.

First and foremost, we believe that the UK’s Beer Duty Rate is excessive, with rates  in the majority of the rest of Europe being very substantially below the UK level.

Secondly, as a “small medium” brewer producing (Pre COVID-19) around 45,000HL per annum, we have been in the increasingly difficult situation of paying nearly as much Duty as larger national and multi-national brewers whilst being unable to achieve anywhere near the economies of scale in brewing, logistics and support functions from which these organisations benefit.

We also suffer from the fact that under the present scheme, any increase in Duty rate is applied across the entire production rather than being stepped as would be the case in a more progressive tax.

We strongly believe that the current scaling of relief constitutes a barrier not only to further expansion but to sustainable consolidation at our current level of production.

It was to address this issue that we became members of SBDRC but we certainly do not agree with the reduction of the Small Brewers threshold – this is an unwarranted, punitive and unnecessary step.

Small Brewers Duty Relief has played a huge part in encouraging entrants to the industry and the vibrancy and variety that has so enhanced the UK brewing scene in recent years is a tribute to this.

However we make no apology for being in support of any amendments to the scheme that will address the difficulties faced by brewers similar to ourselves in the “squeezed middle” of the brewing world.

Frankly, even before the massive shock provided by COVID-19 it had become business critical for us that some reform is put into place but this most certainly doesn’t need to be at the expense of small brewers and you can be certain that we will represent this opinion within the forums of which we are members and with our local MP as consultation on the review progresses.



Back to news