Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Small Brewers Relief

Monday 24 August 2020

Review of CAMRA’s position on Small Brewers’ Relief - outcomes and next campaigning steps

Firstly, we would like to thank everyone for being patient while we have reviewed and refreshed our position on Small Brewers’ Relief (SBR). That process has now concluded, and we are sharing the outcomes with you today.

We decided to review our position in light of the announcement at the end of last month, that the Government intends to reduce the threshold at which the amount of relief would start to taper off from brewers producing 5,000 HL per year, to breweries producing 2,100 HL per year. The Government has not released much more detail on changes that it intends to make but has announced that a further technical consultation will take place later this year.


As reported last week, a special meeting of the Campaigns Committee and the Real Ale, Cider and Perry Campaigns Committee was held this week. The purpose of this meeting was to review our position and make recommendations to the National Executive.

Representatives from SIBA and the Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition were invited to attend, present their stance on the SBR Review, and answer questions from CAMRA attendees. There were a quorate number of National Executive members present at the meeting to agree the recommendations.

The joint meeting agreed:

That CAMRA’s stated policy has been to prevent any loss of relief to brewers at the lower end of the Small Brewers’ Relief (SBR) scale, and that we have never supported the lowering of the 5,000HL threshold. That there isn’t enough information available ahead of the technical consultation, especially regarding how the relief curve will be shaped above any lower threshold. Therefore, there is a need to lobby the Government to provide additional information.

That the need to wait and see if the industry could find consensus over last few years was understandable, but now that the Government has communicated a preference to reduce the lower threshold, this will result in small brewers losing relief, and that we need to adhere to our policy position.

That the lower threshold should not be pre-determined ahead of the technical consultation and it is right to challenge how and why this threshold has been reduced – CAMRA should support calls for the existing 5,000HL limit to be the starting point for consultation, and for debate to be reopened on the proposed 2,100HL threshold.

That the position most likely to achieve broad consensus across the majority of the industry is one where the 5,000HL threshold is not changed – and that the industry should try to unify around calls to amend the existing curve and the upper limit in order to support brewers of all sizes.

Our aim for the technical consultation process should be to mitigate any loss of relief to brewers at the lower end of the SBR scale; to encourage the Government to amend the curve and to raise the upper limit to help larger small brewers.

That the reforms that we support will not be cost neutral to the Treasury, and that we should persuade the Government that this is the correct approach to take.

That we will support and promote the Anspach and Hobday petition on the website.

Therefore, our refreshed position of Small Brewers’ Relief is:

CAMRA believes that the Small Brewers’ Relief Scheme is vital to a thriving beer market, and to ensuring choice for consumers. We have always been concerned about the proposal of removing relief from the smallest brewers and maintain that this should not happen without broad industry consensus – which has not been achieved. We do not believe that the Treasury’s intention to increase the scale of production over which the relief is applied by reducing the lower threshold is the correct way to reform Small Brewers’ Relief.

CAMRA will be joining calls for:

The Government to publish the evidence of how it arrived at the preferred approach of lowering the point at which a brewery receives the full relief from 5,000HL to 2,100HL.

The Government to publish the full detail of its preferred approach to taxing small brewers at all levels of production.

The Government to change its preferred approach and reinstate the 5,000HL threshold up to which a brewery will continue to receive full relief.

We remain committed to campaigning for an increase in the top threshold for relief to 200,000HL, in line with calls from both SIBA and the Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition.

We will not be advocating a specific solution for changing the curve of relief at this stage – only that the curve should be smoothed by increasing the range of production covered through an increase to the top threshold, rather than the reduction of full duty relief at the bottom end of the production scale.

We remain hopeful that the industry can find agreement on what reforms to the relief curve above the 5,000HL threshold should look like, in order to remove current disincentives to growth, and promote healthy competition, cask beer, and consumer choice.

We believe in constructive and positive campaigning, and attacking or calling for boycotts of breweries in CAMRA’s name will not be considered appropriate as part of our strategy for campaigning on Small Brewers’ Relief.