West Dorset publicans have branded the freeze on alcohol duty announced in the Autumn Statement ‘a relief’ for business.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt announced yesterday that alcohol duty would be frozen until next August, meaning no increase in duty on beer, cider, wine or spirits.

Mr Hunt also revealed plans to freeze the so-called small business multiplier - a tax rate used to calculate bills for non-domestic properties - while also extending the 75% discount on business rates up to £110,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure firms for a fifth year to 2024-25.

Dave and Louise Compton at the Spyway Inn in Askerswell, said: “It’s excellent news for the industry and our customers, especially when coupled with the continuation of the business rates relief, this will hopefully allow many businesses to continue trading.”

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The Spyway InnThe Spyway Inn (Image: Maps)

Over in Lyme Regis, the owner of family run pub, the Volunteer Inn, Becky described the announcement as ‘a good thing.’

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The Volunteer InnThe Volunteer Inn (Image: Maps)

She explained that the move shouldn’t affect the Volunteer Inn too much as they are a free house and already have some competitive prices, only charging £3.50 for some lagers and real ales.

She added: “During Covid, people got used to staying home and buying alcohol from the supermarket and a lot have not got used to coming back.”

Sophie Gardiner who manages the Boot, Hardy’s Hophouse and Gezzini in Weymouth said: “Over the last eight years in Weymouth, nightlife especially has been on a massive decline. It’s completely different now. We lost all our nightclubs along the seafront."

The pub manager said that she’s seen a drastic change in people’s drinking habits since Covid, particularly with people asking, ‘how much is a pint of this.’

“There’s always been people asking but nothing like what it is now. Probably around 90 per cent of customers that come into my pubs now ask – it’s really noticeable."

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said: "Britain's publicans and brewers will be raising a glass to the Chancellor, who has once again recognised the importance of our nation's pubs and brewers to the economy and communities."

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) also welcomed the alcohol duty freeze as ‘a huge relief’ after fearing a second duty rise which it said would have been ‘disastrous.’

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “The alcohol duty freeze comes as a huge relief to wine and spirit businesses and the hospitality sector who have taken a battering over the last few years.”