More than 100 Members of the UK Parliament are calling on the government to axe plans to increase beer tax in this year's budget, in a bid to curb pub closures.

Support from MPs comes after more than 10,000 people lobbied their local MP in the last eight weeks, over their concerns about pub closures and falling beer sales, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said today (10 February). 

The 'Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Pub' campaign was launched by industry and consumer groups in November last year. Since then, 20,000 people have signed up as supporters and 113 MPs - 50 Labour, 40 Lib Dem and 17 Conservative - have signed up to the campaign.

Sales of beer are at their lowest levels for 70 years, with the latest industry figures showing a 9% decline during last year alone. Nearly six pubs across the country are closing every day, and thousands of jobs are being lost, says the BBPA. 

It argues that the situation has been aggravated by a series of duty rises, including the 8% increase in the chancellor's pre-budget report last November. As well as a 6% plus inflation rise in the March 2008 budget, tax on beer increased by 18% last year.

The government now has plans to increase duty further this April, and in the following three years, by 2% above inflation each year.

Rob Hayward, BBPA chief executive, said: "The beer and pub industry is not looking for special favours. But at a time when the rest of the British economy is receiving tax breaks and public subsidies, the government's planned tax hikes on beer are both unfair and unsustainable."

Mike Benner, chief executive of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, said: "Our campaign will increase in intensity in the run-up to the budget to ensure that the government hears our message about saving the Great British Pub loud and clear."