SIBA: Review of Small Breweries’ Relief must consider access to market for small brewers
SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, which represents over 850 of Britain’s independent craft breweries, has responded to the launch of a review of Small Breweries’ Relief (SBR) by consultancy Europe Economics by calling for it to include a full analysis of access to market for small brewers to ensure the review provides an accurate picture of the challenges facing Britain’s small brewing businesses. The review is to be managed and funded by the British Beer and Pub Association and the Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition which has around 60 members.
Mike Benner, Managing Director of SIBA, said, “We have raised our serious concerns that as presently planned the review will only superficially analyse the restrictions to access which face Britain’s small brewing businesses in a market which is largely foreclosed to direct access. This is an essential factor to consider in reviewing the effectiveness of SBR. Small Breweries’ Relief was intended from the outset to offset both the higher production costs faced by small breweries and the difficulties of gaining access to market they face. This is as valid today as it was in 2002 when the Relief was introduced, especially given the closure of around 10,000 pubs and a significant switch to the off-trade during this period.”
SIBA is carrying out its own review of market access for small brewing businesses as part of its recently announced ‘Four Pillars’* plan to ensure the craft-brewing sector can continue to deliver the beers today’s discerning beer drinkers demand, notwithstanding the intense competition in today’s beer market.
Buster Grant, Chairman of SIBA, said, “SIBA would support improvements to and enhancements of the scheme to promote growth, exports and normal business activity. Whilst there are currently many views on what a ‘refreshed’ SBR might look like, we believe an Industry consensus is possible and, as the Trade Association representing the vast majority of the UK’s Independent Brewers, we are looking into all aspects of the market. We hope an industry consensus on the future of SBR will prevail.”
Mike Benner added, “We look forward to feeding our views into the review, which we hope will help to establish a consensus right across the industry, including beer drinkers, on the future of SBR through its enhancement, without reducing the vital relief it provides for the UK’s many small brewing businesses.”
*SIBA’s four pillars were announced at its AGM in March of part of the Society’s 2020 vision. It will focus activities for its professional small brewing business members on access to market, taxation, its Assured British Independent Craft Brewer campaign and promoting product excellence.