John Healey MP is celebrating 20 years of the success of the Small Breweries Relief (SBR) which he brought in during the Labour Government in 2002.

The SBR was introduced by John, when he was the newly appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury, to support small independent breweries through tax concessions on beer duty.

Since then, 1,900 independent breweries have sprung up nationwide, including Chantry Brewery in Parkgate. Around 11,000 people are directly employed by independent breweries across the country.

John was at an event held by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) to mark the anniversary and said: “I had the honour to introduce the Small Breweries’ Relief and it’s been a phenomenal success and certainly one of the measures that I am most proud of working on in the Treasury.

“It has played a big part in the expansion of new independent breweries and given birth to the exciting craft beer industry we have today.

“As the first ever Minister for Pubs under the Labour Government I saw the impact that SBR has had on the diversity on offer in our community pubs. We’ve seen huge innovation in the industry, with small breweries leading the way in developing new beer styles, providing consumers with what they want – a delicious fresh and local pint of beer.”

A new report by SIBA to mark the 20th anniversary found that 95% of small breweries find the SBR to be ‘important’ or ‘very important’ for their ability to compete as a small business, whilst SIBA credited the SBR for creating a “thriving and expanding independent beer industry”.

The success of the SBR introduced by John has led to the current Government make the decision to expand the policy into a new Producers Relief (SPR). The SPR will provide a similar relief to producers of cider, made wines and to lower strength beers below 2.9% ABV.

John added: “The craft beer sector is not without its challenges. Covid struck the heart of our communities, forcing our pubs and hospitality sector to close, seeing production fall and businesses go bust. Small breweries are yet to recover and are now facing even more challenging circumstances with a combination of energy bill increases, supply issues and a cost of living crisis.

“Whatever the challenges, I know that small independent breweries are agile, innovative and creative businesses and I look forward to celebrating a further 20 years of relief under the Small Producer Relief, which I hope will see the UK’s craft brewers continue to thrive.”