A group of 68 Conservative MPs have signed a letter calling for the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut beer duty in his upcoming Budget announcement on 3 March.

The letter has been sent to HM Treasury today and follows call from the pub and brewing sector for increased support from government, following the announcement of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown.

The letter states that while the freeze on beer duty in the 2020 Budget represented an important step in the right direction, “we are now calling for a significant cut in beer duty over the course of this parliament to support this vital sector”.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said the cautious reopening plan for pubs will cost the sector £1.5bn in lost trade in April alone as three in five pubs will not be able to open or be viable with outdoor-only service.

The initiative has been driven by Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham – a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and a Long Live the Local beer champion.

Holden said: “Our pubs are at the heart of our communities and lockdown has hit them harder than any other sector. Whilst the government support has been welcome, it has not made up for the massive impact of being closed for so long on these vital local institutions.

“The best way for them to build back better after this crisis is to get people back into pubs and the best encouragement for publicans and the public is to see real action on beer duty.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, added: “It is up to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to deliver the support our pubs and brewers need. That includes a beer duty cut that allows them to survive and thrive in the future. I hope he listens to our sector and those on his backbenches pleading him to do the right thing.”