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Robinsons Brewery and beer duty 2013Last month, The Chancellor George Osborne cut the price of a pint of beer by 1p in a bid to support our British pubs. But how much difference will this actually make to Britain’s brewing and pub businesses? BBC Breakfast visit one of Britain’s longest serving family brewers – Robinsons to find out.

The planned 3p rise in beer duty has been scrapped and general beer duty rate was reduced by 2% from 25th March 2013. Duty rates on low strength beer were reduced by 6% and on high strength beer by 0.75%. This equates to a 1p cut in the price of a pint... the first beer duty cut since 1959.

How much difference will one penny really make? We were all expecting five or even ten pence rise on the price of a pint, so the fact that we have had a tax fall is a huge difference.

Managing Director of the drinks division at Robinsons, Oliver Robinson, said: “The effect of the Budget to date has been to decrease beer consumption by 17% (that’s 2.7 million less pints sold per day)and increase beer tax by 42% from March 2008 to March 2013, when the Chancellor made the recent cut of 2%. So whilst we are both shocked and delighted to finally receive a cut in beer duty, we still have our work cut out to protect our national tipple. Drinking habits are changing and, despite what the government would have us believe, we are actually becoming a nation of discerning drinkers. We may not consume as much but what we do consumer is arguably better thanks to a rise in both competition and variety. British beer has a special place in pubs and it’s great to see the government recognising this.

It goes without saying that British beer is fundamental to British pubs up and down the country – 87% of the beer drunk in the UK is brewed in the UK (compared with 0.2% of wine) and beer counts for 68% of pub’s drinks sales – but it is also fundamental to our jobs. One job in brewing equates to 18 jobs in a pub, plus 1 in agriculture, supply chain and retail. The beer duty cut will not only protect thousands of jobs, and many pubs, it will allow us to create new ones.

Along with the majority of larger pubcos and brewers, regional brewer Robinsons have also promised to pass on the beer duty cut onto their licensees.

Oliver’s cousin, William Robinson, is Managing Director of the Pub Division at the brewery. William was very pleased the government have finally taken a step in the right direction: “Since 2008, 5,800 pubs have closed and 60,000 jobs have been lost. Pubs have been struggling and it was about time the government gave a helping hand and recognised the importance of pubs in British society. Not only are our British pubs the third most popular reason that people visit the UK, but they are also the beating heart of the community and they play a huge role in ensuring people drink and meet new people in a safe environment. They enrich local life with community events and activities as well as offering vital community services such as post offices, general stores and broadband internet. We have been investing heavily in our brew house, Visitors Centre, brands and pubs at a time when others aren’t. We have done this because we are passionate about our business and we plan on sticking around for a long time to come.

Robinsons have been topic of the month all over the country – and even the world for that matter – for a number of reasons: a multi-million pound brew house and Visitors Centre are now welcoming guests and corporate clients, their new 2013 seasonal ales are already proving popular, their new beer with food range (created with Simon Rimmer) has taken the supermarkets by storm, and they have announced they are bringing out an ale with heavy metal rock legends, Iron maiden (launching 9th May). 

Robinsons are also celebrating their 175th anniversary this year... and one senses they will be fighting fit for a long while to come.

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