CAMPAIGNERS hailed the Chancellor's third consecutive cut in beer duty as a "great day" for independent brewers, pubs and consumers.

George Osborne used his Budget to cut the price of beer duty by 1p alongside a two per cent cut to cider duty "to support our producers in the West Country and elsewhere".

He also announced that "to back one of the UK's biggest exports, the duty on Scotch whisky and other spirits will be cut by two per cent as well".

Duties on tobacco and gaming are unchanged and wine duty is frozen.

Mike Benner, managing director at the Society of Independent Brewers, said: "This is a great day for British independent brewers, pubs and consumers.

"We applaud the Chancellor's decision to support British beer with this historic third cut in beer duty.

"It continues the momentum of the cuts in 2013 and 2014 and will boost growth, employment and investment in the independent brewing sector."

But alchol campaigners accused the Chancellor of caving in to pressure from the drinks industry and warned a price cut would do nothing to address the problems of alcohol-related violence and health problems.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “The fact that the Chancellor chose to listen to the big alcohol companies and make alcohol even cheaper is staggering.

“One North-East child a day is admitted to hospital because of alcohol. Liver disease amongst under-35s has tripled in 10 years. Over half of violent crime is linked to alcohol. All of this is largely driven by the widespread availability of cheap alcohol.

“It’s time the Chancellor started listening to the needs of our public services and did something to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Camra (the Campaign for Real Ale) said it was "delighted" with the hat-trick of cuts.

Chief executive Tim Page said: "The last two cuts have already had a huge impact, saving over 1,000 pubs from closure and keeping the price of a pub pint down.

"Independent research by the Centre for Economic and Business Research forecasts that the price of a pub pint will now be more than 20p cheaper than it would have been had the beer duty escalator remained in place.

"A third cut in beer tax is a huge vote of confidence in the importance of pubs and brewing. It will help ensure the sector returns to long-term growth after many years of pub closures and falling beer sales, caused in part by a 42 per cent beer tax increase between 2008 and 2012, and throw a lifeline to struggling community pubs across the country.

"Britain is known around the world for great pubs and real ale, and we should all be incredibly proud that this industry has just reported growth for the first time in a decade. We hope Britain's millions of pub goers will head to their local this evening to give three cheers to a historic third cut in beer tax."

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive David Frost said: "This is a historic decision and only the fourth time whisky duty has been cut in a century.

"The Chancellor's announcement will be toasted across the whisky industry and by consumers who are getting a fairer deal on tax when they have a drink of Scotch. The move is a major boost to our industry as we look to grow again in the UK, and equally sends out an important signal on fair taxation to our export markets.

"The industry is raising a glass to George Osborne and his Treasury team, as well as to all those who have supported our campaign over the last two decades."

Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said: "We are delighted that the Government has listened to consumers and taken action to address the UK's excessive spirit duty rates. This small drop in duty will result in a big cheer for the UK's 24 million spirit consumers.

"We campaigned for a cut in duty across all products and are disappointed that the UK's 30 million wine consumers did not receive a duty cut too. But freezing wine duty is an improvement and a first step towards supporting wine businesses that are looking to invest in the UK, create jobs and back British pubs."

But Alcohol Concern said the Government had "once again cast aside the health of the nation to protect the interests of 'big alcohol'".

The charity's chief executive, Jackie Ballard, said: "Alcohol misuse costs us all £21 billion a year, our NHS is straining under the burden of it and our police forces are stretched to the limit because of it.

"Instead of taking serious, evidence-based action - like implementing a minimum unit price - the Chancellor has given the alcohol industry the go-ahead to make even bigger profits at all of our expense.

"Until we treat alcohol misuse as the huge public health issue it is, like smoking, we will all continue to pay billions to deal with it."