Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Net receipts from beer duty

I love me some numbers. Dry reading? not in the least.

Beer duty was an important revenue source for the UK government. And, with beer production expanding, the amount it raised was on the increase, too. Good news for everyone, Surely?

"The Inland Revenue Report.
THE thirty-fifth report of the Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Inland Revenue for the year ended March 31, 1892, has been recently issued, and while statistics are proverbially dry reading, yet from a trade point of view they are extremely interesting, for it is from the records of the past that lessons for the future are to be learnt. The publication of this report is always eagerly looked forward to by brewers, for it contains an official, and therefore presumably an exact, resumé of the work accomplished _by brewers and others who so largely contribute to the coffers of the national exchequer. In dealing with several points in the report, we may at once state that the figures are for the years ended March 31, unless otherwise set forth. In the first place, we must congratulate our readers on the substantial increase in the sum paid for beer duty, showing as it does that an increased quantity of beer must have been produced last year. The increase amounted to 273,864 barrels, and the net receipts of duty increased £70,425, compared with the year 1891. As these figures relating to the beer duty are of some importance, we append them for the last eleven years, 1882 being the first year in which a complete year’s beer duty was collected :—

England. Scotland. Ireland. United Kingdom.
1882 7,611,203 301,217 618,399 8,530,819
1883 7,425,502 311,869 662,997 8,403,368
1884 7,511,064 332,411 644,694 8,488,169
1885 7,523,626 337,093 684,030 8,544,749
1886 7,389,793 340,611 673,177 8,403,581
1887 7,460,032 356,103 679,519 8,495,654
1888 7,626,901 377,132 707,500 8,711,533
1889 7,652,602 395,706 721,987 8,770,295
1890 8,207,171 441,542 761,713 9,410,426
1891 8,520,904 471,841 788,653 9,781,397
1892 8,585,209 463,879 802,734 9,851,822

When remarking on the report in the three previous years we then stated that the revenue from beer was very much larger than it had ever been before, and we can again reiterate this statement now. Such eminently satisfactory results are in direct contradiction to the dismal prognostications of some who would have us believe that the manufacture of beer is a decaying industry, and they must give considerable confidence to the numerous capitalists who have of late years invested in the shares~of the many joint stock brewing companies which have been formed."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1892", 1892, page 295.
The 1890s were the peak years for British brewing. Sales were on the up and profits, too. Many breweries had very successful flotations. But the seeds of future problems had already been sown. Temperance twats were starting to get the ear of politicians and the threat of restrictions like local vetoes were starting to appear.

Another longterm threat was linked to the successful flotations. These raised large amounts of cash that was used to be pubs. With new licences being almost impossible to obtain, pubs were a limited recource. The scramble to buy them vastly inflsted their price. This would come back to bite breweries in the bum in the runup to WW I, when changes to licensing duties seriously reduced the value of pubs. And hence the assets of breweries.

This is a bit mean:

"It is satisfactory to find that the practice of private brewing continues to decrease year by year. The number of persons licensed for domestic brewing for 1890-91 was 23,424, as against 20,705 for 1891-92 - a falling off of 2,719."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1892", 1892, page 295.

That's still an awful lot of licences for domestic brewing.

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