By Scott Wright

SMALL brewers have reacted angrily after pleas for the Treasury to suspend duty payments in light of sales collapsing because of coronavirus went unheeded.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) had been lobbying Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to cancel duty payments due to be debited from bank accounts today to help smaller players deal with the disruption brought by the pandemic.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes were told to close their doors on Friday night and not re-open under social distancing measures aimed at halting the spread of the virus, while takeaway sales from beer firms were curtailed on Monday.

SIBA said last night the decision of the UK Government to collect the March duty payments was a “huge blow for the UK’s small independent brewers”.

Chief executive James Calder said: “SIBA has been calling for the cancellation of beer duty for over a week and it is incredibly disappointing that the Chancellor has decided not to act, given he knows how poor the answer rate and experience on the helpline is.

“The Chancellor has

left brewers with few options if they are unsuccessful in reaching the helpline. There will be brewers tomorrow who will have thousands of pounds direct debited from their accounts by HMRC.

“This is a huge blow for the UK’s small independent brewers.”