A SUNDERLAND brewery boss is backing calls for the scrapping of a controversial booze tax.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) lobbied Parliament recently calling for the beer duty tax escalator to be abolished.
New figures show that since the policy of raising beer duty by two per cent above inflation was introduced by the Labour Government in 2008, more than 5,800 pubs have closed and the number of pub-goers has fallen by three million.
Mark Anderson, managing director of Maxim Brewery, in Houghton, said: “The increase of beer duty of 42 per cent has actually caused a direct pub increase of 88 per cent equivalent to 38p per pint .
“It is beyond belief that the country’s unique drink is not protected to an equivalent basis of that of France or Italy.
“The escalator is an unfair tax on the beer, pub trade and the drinking public.”
The escalator, introduced by then-Chancellor Alistair Darling is due to last until 2014-15.
Mark added: “The majority of the drinking public do so as a safe social recreation and in the majority of cases this supports their local community pub.
“Beer is Britain’s national drink and British pubs are unique in the world and should be supported by Government and local authorities.”
The country’s beer drinkers are saddled with one of the highest rates of tax in Europe, and a 106,000-signature Government e-petition has already forced a Parliamentary debate on the issue.
Camra national chairman Colin Valentine said: “The Government does not appear to have woken up to the crippling social and economic impact their actions are having on valued community pubs.
“Such a huge decline in the number of regular pub-goers is a critical reminder that change needs to happen fast to prevent irreparable damage to community life in the UK, and to save the nation’s proud pub-going heritage from being taxed into oblivion.”