New figures from HM Revenue & Customs showing beer duty fraud has fallen prove there is no need to put duty stamps on beer, brewers have claimed.

The tax avoided on beer fell from £700m in the year to April 2007 to £550m in April 2009, according to the HMRC report on tax avoidance, which has revealed estimates for beer tax fraud for the first time.

Wells & Young's MD Nigel McNally said that the decline was evidence duty stamps were unnecessary and warned that if they were introduced they would penalise UK brewers and cost jobs.

"Whatever HMRC is doing, it seems to be having a positive effect," he said. "If HMRC developed new procedures that require additional cost to implement, it's not good for business or for jobs. I'm trying to protect jobs in Bedford, where we are a significant employer."

As overseas brewers could not be forced to use duty stamps, UK brewers would move production abroad, he warned.

The scale of the fraud problem did not warrant duty stamps, agreed The British Beer & Pub Association. "We feel that stamps would be expensive and totally disproportionate way to tackle duty fraud," said a spokesman.

"It is also totally at odds with the government's objectives of reducing the regulatory burdens on business. Spirits and beer are just not comparable in these terms a single bottle of spirits equates to 20 cans of beer."

However, HMRC said that it was still considering duty stamps on beer. "Estimated losses from fraud in beer products have reduced almost £150m in the past two years," it said. "HMRC launched its new strategy to tackle alcohol fraud in April. It involves working closely with the UK brewing industry and targeting the criminals behind the fraud. All options to help tackle fraud remain under consideration, including duty stamps."

Tax evasion on spirits fell from £550m to £300m between 2007 and 2009. Duty stamps were introduced in 2006.