Chancellor George Osborne announced today (23 March) that the alcohol duty escalator introduced by Labour will stay. The move will see duty rise by 7.2%, about 4p on the price of a pint of beer and two percentage points above the rate of inflation, from Monday (28 March).
Diageo – which makes the Guinness, Smirnoff and Gordon’s brands – claims that the increase will be the third in as many years.
“We recognise the economic challenges that the Chancellor faces; however, over 70% of the average retail price of a bottle of Gordon’s Gin or Bell’s Whisky now consists of tax.
“That is a staggering and unsustainable figure which is significantly higher than the equivalent tax proportion on an average litre price of unleaded fuel,” the company says in a statement.
Carling maker Molson Coors slammed the Government’s “continued persecution of beer and pubs in Britain since the 1990s”.
It adds: “Where is the common good in taxing one of life’s simple pleasures – sharing a beer with friends – out of existence? The treasury loses, brewing loses, pubs close.”
The Chancellor also confirmed that the Government will introduce an additional duty on high-strength beers and a reduced rate of duty on lower-strength beers in a bid to encourage responsible drinking. It is not yet known, however, what the new rates will be.