Trade bodies representing drinks producers and retailers have re-iterated calls for the alcohol duty escalator to be scrapped at the Budget on 21 March. The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) warned that the constant duty rises would “undo all the good” created by Progressive Beer Duty, also known as Small Brewers Duty (SBD), the system of tax breaks for smaller brewers, in its Budget submission. SIBA chairman Keith Bott said: “Once again, our submission to the Treasury points to the positive impact of SBR: local beer volumes are in growth and local brewers are investing to meet this growing demand, creating jobs and making a significant contribution to their local economy. “However, the Government’s beer taxation policies will, if unchecked, undo all the good created by SBR. For local brewing to thrive, so must pubs: 82% of our members’ production is draught beer. “Yet the very existence of this vital route to market is threatened by successive hikes in duty that are rapidly turning a pint of beer into an unaffordable luxury.” The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned that the duty escalator, which sees the level rise by inflation plus 2% each year, could mean a 7.2% rise in duty in March. The WSTA said pressure on the industry is mounting, with UK alcohol sales falling 3% by volume in 2011, while the move puts the UU out of touch with other European countries - visitors to the Olympics will face paying 50% more for an average bottle of wine than if the games were being held in Paris, and triple what they’d pay in Madrid. WSTA interim chief executive Gavin Partington said: “We recognise the pressure there is on the public finances. However easing the duty burden on the drinks industry would boost growth and investment, helping the sector to play its part in the UK’s economic recovery. “By scrapping the planned duty increase, the Chancellor would also be providing some much needed relief to consumers whose household budgets are already being squeezed. “With thousands of extra visitors heading to the UK for the Olympic Games, this is no time to force drinks prices up even further.”