A Norfolk brewer believes his industry is facing further tough times following the chancellor's autumn statement.

After Jeremy Hunt’s speech in the House of Commons on November 22, Moon Gazer Ale co-owner, David Holliday, said while the government planned some welcomed measures, there was a missed opportunity to give the brewery sector a much-needed boost.

Mr Holliday said the rates system should be reformed and called for a meaningful VAT reduction to help out the industry.

“There can be little doubt that the pub and hospitality sector needed a boost in the autumn statement – it's faced major challenges in staffing, rising food and energy costs,” he said.

Fakenham & Wells Times: David and Rachel Holliday owners of Moon Gazer AleDavid and Rachel Holliday owners of Moon Gazer Ale (Image: Keith Osborn)

“As a sector, we need to continue to campaign for a meaningful VAT reduction.

“Norfolk is blessed with so many small, independent businesses in the industry, and tourists flock to the county to enjoy them.

"Despite the autumn statement they will now continue to face very tough challenges, increased costs and pressures at a time when consumers are themselves tightening their belts.”

Mr Holliday praised an extension of a planned business rate relief scheme – saying this was a “lifeline” to many business which had used it to offset the energy increases.

But he said:  “a full reform of the rates system is what is desperately needed.”

Mr Holliday said an alcohol duty freeze is welcomed, but added: “It's most definitely not a cut – it is just not going up so the benefit will not be a lower-priced pint.

“This unfortunate spin describing it as a cut has created a lot of avoidable confusion. The industry has been and continues to call for meaningful cuts in duty if pubs are to compete with the supermarkets and at-home drinking.”

The brewer also said the increase in national living wage will have a severe impact on the sector.

He said: “We all advocate the need to eliminate low pay – but the increase is in effect a 10pc staff cost that the businesses will have to deal with at a time they can least afford it."