MP JOHN Healey has joined calls for a freeze in beer duty in the March Budget by sending a special ‘message in a barrel’ to the Chancellor.

The hand-crafted oak barrel, an iconic symbol of Britain’s world-renowned brewing and pub industry, is a reminder of how important brewing and pubs are to South Yorkshire, the MP says.

Beer duty has risen by an unprecedented 42 per cent since March 2008 - yet the Chancellor plans a further increase in the Budget on 20 March.

The industry employs more than 1,300 people in Wentworth & Dearne and it adds £22m to the local economy.

The result of the controversial policy has been falling beer sales and pub closures in recent years.

Mr Healey said: “Beer is a great British industry and tradition - the temporary beer duty escalator was set to end last year and is now doing great damage to our pubs and brewers. Beer lovers like me are also losing out from higher prices and company failures."