Alcohol industry slams “baffling” budget

The alcohol industry has described Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to press ahead with a planned 7.2% increase in alcohol duty as a “disappointing” and “baffling” measure that will put further pressure on the ailing pub sector and hit sales in shops.


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.

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