A LONG-STANDING city publican will join a mass lobby of MPs next week over “beer tax” that he says will put up to 40p on a pint.

Andrew Hall says these are the most difficult business times he has known in the 29 years he has run Oxford’s Rose and Crown.

Since 2008, the beer duty escalator has meant costs have risen two per cent above inflation each year.

Residents are invited to join members of the Campaign for Real Ale lobby at Parliament on Wednesday to call for its removal.

Mr Hall said: “It’s the toughest it has ever been – it is increasingly difficult alongside bureaucracy and red tape.”

The North Parade Avenue pub absorbed some past increases, he said, but warned a hike in the March budget would hit prices.

Increases are likely to see standard ales rise from £3.70 to £4, standard lager from £3.60 to £3.90 and premium lager increase from £4.10 to £4.50, he said.

He said: “People only have so much money to spend. They are still coming in but they are spending less.”

The campaign group said a third of each pint now is now taken by the Government and the tax had risen by 42 per cent since 2008.

But it claimed the escalator will bring no extra revenue to the Treasury as beer sales are falling.

In August, the Oxford Mail revealed that 50 pubs have closed since 2007.

Among those set to join the demo is publican-turned-bus driver John Bellinger, who quit The Bell at Adderbury last year.

Mr Bellinger, chairman of the North Oxfordshire branch of Camra, branded it a “ridiculously unfair tax, which is responsible without argument for hundreds of pubs across the country closing”.

The tax helped profits sink from 59p a pint in 2008 to 30p last year, he said. This would be 12p now, he added.

Carol Wixey, licensee of the Hare and Hounds in Wardington, said: “They can’t keep putting it up. There are no new customers, the youngsters don’t come out and pay these prices.”

Treasury spokesman Sarah Gibbs said: “Getting the deficit under control has meant tough choices. “The Government recognises the value of the beer and pub industry, and the important contribution it makes to local communities and the wider economy.”

Despite keeping the escalator, pubs benefited from a cut in National Insurance contributions, a business rates “holiday” and cuts in corporation tax, she said.

Pledging to meet campaigners, Labour Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “The price of beer in pubs is being driven ever higher than what people pay in supermarkets, and this is killing a lot of local pubs.”

Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry said he would try to meet campaigners but urged not to underestimate the scale of the “nightmarish” UK deficit.

He said: “If there is a reduction in beer duty, the Chancellor has got to make that spending up elsewhere.”

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood had yet to comment.