KIRKCALDY and Cowdenbeath MP, Neale Hanvey, has urged the UK Government to rethink its planned changes to the Small Brewers Duty Relief or risk pushing small breweries like Cowdenbeath's Beath Brewing to think against growing their business.

Earlier this year, the UK Government concluded its review of Small Brewers Duty Relief (SBR) and announced that it is seeking to reduce the threshold from which firms are entitled to the full tax relief.

The local MP has joined colleagues in writing to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, highlighting concerns within industry – including from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) – that the change would result in small breweries across Scotland facing increased financial costs.

Mr Hanvey has also highlighted that the changes will disincentivise the smallest companies from growing and said: “The UK Government is pulling the rug from under small brewers at the worst possible time.

"Support should be strengthened to see these small companies through tough times and protect local jobs, but instead Ministers decide to tinker with the Small Brewers Duty Relief.

“That relief is precisely the reason why we’ve seen a boom in small brewers across the country. Just look here in Fife, where there are now at least eleven breweries across the Kingdom, including Beath Brewing in my constituency.

“That is now at risk because of the UK Government’s proposed changes. Microbrewers like Beath Brewing won’t go out of business, but they’ll choose not to take that next step and grow. Either that or they could fall victim to the predation of large, multinational breweries2.

The MP went on: “And the duty relief in its current form has been vital in helping small craft brewers compete in the marketplace dominated by large and global brewers.

“I’m not holding my breath that the letter to the Secretary of State will make any difference, but my colleagues and I won’t let this drop. The UK Government must look at alternative approaches to secure the future of the industry at this difficult time.”

Ian McGrath of Beath Brewing added: “Most of the small breweries in Fife, including ourselves, won’t be immediately impacted by this change. We come in well below the threshold.

“But it does mean we have to think very carefully about our longer-term growth. Our next expansion might mean we only go up to the SBR threshold, rather than bigger. This ultimately means we won’t create as many jobs in the local area.

“It feels like this is all to benefit the big brewers. Just look at some of the other suggestions, like brewers keeping the SBR for three years after being bought out. It would make small businesses attractive targets for multinationals.”