Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame has told Treasury minister Justine Greening that the duty escalator “must go”, writes Michelle Perrett. The minister visited the brewery as part of a fact-finding mission to understand the impact of tax and duty rates on the operation of brewers and pubs. Greening is the first minister to visit the brewery, despite repeated invitations to ministers to discuss the issues affecting the trade. During a “full and frank exchange of views” according to Neame, he reiterated trade concerns about the impact of recent excise increases on brewers, licensees and community pubs. He said: “The primary responsibility of the Treasury is to raise revenue to meet the Government deficit. We are all grown up about these views but we wish they (the Government) would look in another direction. The purpose of the meeting was to get under the skin of a brewery and understand the impact. "It is very refreshing that a minister is prepared to visit. She has a considerable understanding of business, accounts and was very well informed. “It has to be a positive there is an open dialogue and engagement at a high level within the Government.” He admitted there was “some sympathy” with the views of the trade in the Treasury and is convinced the argument against the duty escalator is “strong”. Justine Greening, who is economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Visiting Shepherd Neame gave me a further insight into the opportunities and challenges facing the brewing industry, and medium-sized breweries in particular. “We want to continue to work with industry to make sure that we support businesses — whether in brewing or the production of wine, spirits or cider — whilst meeting our key priority of restoring the nation’s finances for the good of all businesses.” Last week, the head of public affairs at the British Beer & Pub Association, David Wilson, admitted campaigning against the duty escalator is set to be the “biggest challenge” facing the industry.