Moorhouses boss hits out at tax relief for micro breweries

A Burnley brewery boss has called for an end to a tax relief for “micro” breweries – to the anger of smaller brewers in the town.

David Grant
David Grant

Mr David Grant, managing director of Moorhouse’s Brewery, described the Small Brewers Tax Relief as a “monster” that was penalising larger brewers.

The tax concession was introduced in 2002 to help brewers struggling to survive. Brewers producing less than 860,000 pints (3,000 barrels) a year became eligible for a 50% reduction in duty.

But writing in a trade journal, Mr Grant said: “The tax relief was not supposed to lead to the decline of larger brewers. These are long-established businesses – employers making a significant contribution to local economies and, crucially, future sustainability in the industry.”

But his comments were countered by independent brewers in Burnley who said that, without the tax relief, they would not survive.

Mr Peter Gouldsbrough, who set up Reedley Hallows Brewing Company in 2012, said: “Moorhouse’s was happy to take this tax relief when it was a smaller concern. Micro breweries have as much right to exist as larger ones.”

Mr Gouldsbrough also refuted Mr Grant’s claim micro breweries want to remain small to retain a cheap price at the bar, and consumers would suffer.

He added: “It is wrong to suggest we use this to sell beer at price. We sell it on quality. Micro breweries are in existence because they are doing something right. They have been good for the industry as they offer more choice for consumers. The more breweries that survive the better as they are putting something back into the economy.”

Another small Burnley brewer, Mr Michael Whittaker, who founded Worsthorne Brewery, said larger brewers were taxed too much but stressed the Small Brewers Tax Relief was essential.

He said: “Big brewers are heavily penalised, which I think is wrong and needs to be reviewed by the government, but without the relief we couldn’t survive.”

But Mr Grant said the tax relief needed to be altered, adding: “Many will feel I am simply attempting to pull up the drawbridge. Nevertheless, I feel strongly that we must tackle this issue now if we are to secure a healthy and prosperous British brewing industry for the future.”