The MP for St Helens South and Whiston has called on the government to cut beer duty to stop people “pre-loading” before they go on a night out.
Marie Rimmer MP said more needs to be done to help pubs compete with supermarket chains, during a debate on the taxation on beer and pubs in Westminster Hall on Wednesday.
The Labour MP said people in the UK pay almost 40 per cent of all the beer duty in the EU, while only consuming 12 per cent of the beer.
She questioned why the beer duty is so much higher than similar sized nations such as Germany, where the beer duty is eleven times lower than the UK.
Ms Rimmer said some people would argue that the high taxation rate is to discourage people from excessive drinking.
The former leader of St Helens Council said it is “vitally important” that people drink responsibly.
However, she pointed to the Green Budget, published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in 2016, which said the current structure of alcohol duties is not well targeted at harmful alcoholic consumption.
Ms Rimmer said: “In fact, what we are seeing, due to the fact local pubs cannot afford to offer the same prices as supermarket chains, that people are excessively drinking at home in pre-drink sessions.
“People feel pressured to drink as much alcohol as they can before they go out on a night out in the pub or the wine bars, where the prices are higher than the drinks in the supermarkets, in part due to the way our taxes are applied.”
Ms Rimmer said pubs remain an “integral” part of the St Helens, Whiston and Prescot communities, but told MPs that “dozens” of pubs have had to close their doors.
“We have many fantastic pubs across the constituency, including The Cricketers Arms, who deservedly won the 2017 National Pub of the Year award,” Ms Rimmer said. “But we’ve seen dozens of pubs close.
“Many local pubs across the country are struggling under current taxation arrangements, which makes it extremely difficult for local pubs to compete with massive supermarkets and large pub chains.”
Ms Rimmer said the brewing and the pub industry employs almost 900,000 jobs across the UK.
She said the loss of these jobs would have a “major impact” on the UK’s economy, which would offset much of the income generated from these higher taxes.
Ms Rimmer said one way the government can support pubs would be to improve the current structure of the small breweries’ relief, which was implemented by Gordon Brown in 2012 when he was Chancellor.
She also urged Whitehall chiefs to implement a “modest cut” to beer duty.
Ms Rimmer said: “Let us take the steps necessary to ensure these great British institutions don’t have to call for the last orders, permanently.
“Please, I urge action from government.”