The British Beer and Pub Association said the 5% increase in beer tax has piled more misery on the nation’s hard-pressed pubs and hampered the chances of industry recovery. Brigid Simmond’s, the BBPA’s chief executive, said since 2008 beer tax had increased by 26% and that the rises were a snub to voters. She said: "This latest beer tax hike piles on the misery for Britain's hard-pressed pubs and beer lovers. It is also a snub to voters, who by a majority of two to one wanted the Chancellor to scrap the beer tax escalator. "Since 2008, beer tax has increased by an eye-watering 26% – a £761 million tax rise - and we have seen the loss of 4,000 pubs and over 40,000 jobs up and down the country. Beer sales are down £650m in the last year alone.” She also called the chancellor’s claim that the budget was for investment and growth hollow and added: “The extension of the tax escalator for an extra two years also means more pain. "Recently, there had been some signs of improvement in our industry but this recovery will be threatened by Mr Darling's tax rise, which is putting hundreds more pubs and thousands more jobs at risk." Mike Benner, CAMRA chief executive, called the budget a charter for supermarkets who irresponsibly promote alcohol as a loss leader at the expense of community pubs, real ale and responsible pub goers. He said: “‘CAMRA is totally at a loss in understanding how a government that recognises the community value of pubs can impose such consistently draconian beer duty increases. “Today’s duty increase has stamped down on the survival hopes of community pubs across the UK. This is a further tax raid on responsible beer drinkers and community pubs. It is however a tax raid that will yield little extra money for the government as any extra beer duty will be outweighed by job losses, pub closures and reduced business taxes.” Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), said the budget had not been a route map out of recession for pubs and bars. He added: “The opportunity for pubs to be recognised as the best and safest places for responsible consumption has again been missed. Supermarkets will force suppliers to absorb the duty increases and thus increase the differential between the on and off trade. Minimum pricing is controversial and maybe illegal, but a ban on below-cost selling is in the gift of the government now." Trevor Watson, director of valuations at leisure property consultancy Davis Coffer Lyons (DCL) said: “Yet again the government’s policy on liquor duty is based on the premise that alcohol is too cheap leading to law and order issues in town centres. "When will they realise that constantly squeezing the sector is having profoundly damaging consequences on huge numbers of community locals which are the bedrock of their communities? Government policy needs to be much more carefully targeted to ensure the on trade has fighting chance of competing with supermarkets.”