Brexit could see the price of a pint falling by more than 20p if Britain seizes the opportunity to lift costly EU regulations on pubs, campaigners say.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) wants duty on draught beers sold in pubs rather than supermarkets to be cut and a smaller bill for lower-strength pints.
These measures would currently need the approval of the European Commission, which has not updated its directive on excise duty since 1992.
CAMRA’s General Election manifesto, revealed exclusively by MailOnline, also calls on prospective MPs to reduce VAT on licensed premises and cut business rates.
CAMRA’s general election manifesto, revealed exclusively by MailOnline, calls on prospective MPs to pledge a preferential rate of beer duty for pubs compared to supermarkets
The group thinks politicians should encourage people to drink in well-managed pubs rather than buying beer from supermarkets to have at home or on the street.
It points to recent research by Oxford University which found people who visit pubs have more friends, are happier and feel more engaged with their communities.
CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine said: ‘Pubs are a uniquely British institution that showcase our nation’s brewing tradition and provide an essential community facility for those that use them.
‘It is therefore crucial that beer drinkers and pub-goers are not left behind when it comes to negotiating Britain’s future over the coming years.’
Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin backed the campaign, telling MailOnline: ‘CAMRA is right to try and use this opportunity to create political support for pubs.
‘Pubs and supermarkets should be taxed equally – supermarkets don’t need tax breaks.’
The group thinks politicians should encourage people to drink in well-managed pubs rather than buying beer from shops
The EU Excise Duty Directive prevents the government from giving pubs a preferential rate of beer duty compared to supermarkets.
Draught beers below 2.8% alcohol receive a 50% duty discount, but CAMRA wants this raised to 3.5% to take into account the strength of pints at an average pub.
This change alone would cut the price of a 3.5% pint by 19p.
CAMRA’s proposed cuts to overall beer duty and VAT are not included in this calculation, so if these were included the saving would be more.
VAT is currently 20% and is paid by pubs on sales at the till. EU directives mean member states are not allowed to drop their rates of VAT below 15%.
CAMRA, which has more than 187,000 members, has not stated the exact amount they would like general beer duty and VAT to be reduced to.
It points to recent research by Oxford University which found people who visit pubs have more friends, are happier and feel more engaged with their communities
Business rates, which the EU does not influence, also penalise pubs compared to supermarkets, campaigners believe.
Chancellor Philip Hammond responded to criticism by including a £1,000 rates discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 in his budget.
Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin backed the campaign, telling MailOnline: ‘CAMRA is right to try and use this opportunity to create political support for pubs’
CAMRA wants MPs to consider further changes to business rates to make sure pub going remains an ‘affordable activity’.
At present, pubs pay 2.8% of the total amount paid in rates, despite accounting for only 0.5% of total business turnover.
Mr Valentine added: ‘Current business rates discounts for pubs in England should be made permanent and increased to £5,000.
Mr Martin agreed, saying: ‘Pubs pay about 18p per pint as business rates and supermarkets only 2p.
‘Pubs also pay 20% VAT on food sales, whereas supermarkets pay nothing.’
He has previously noted that his chain is ‘not eligible’ for Mr Hammond’s rates discount and told MailOnline he faces paying £8,000 more per pub each year.
The CAMRA manifesto also calls on the current exemption from duty for cider makers who produce under 7,000 litres a year to be kept.
In addition, the group warns politicians to mitigate against the risks of Brexit for the pub trade as well as seize the opportunities it creates.