Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Chancellor penalises the pub goer to placate health lobby

So the Government has decided to back away from introducing minimum alcohol unit pricing and thrown away the chance to stop below cost selling of alcohol by supermarkets.

The Government claim that they are already committed, whatever that means, to stop such predatory marketing practices by the large supermarkets who use cheap booze sales to increase footfall. Below- cost selling of alcohol is having disasterous effects on local community pubs who cannot afford to indulge in selling their beer at below cost prices.

The introduction of a minimum alcohol price, based on the true production and tax costs of alcohol, would at a stroke stop below cost selling of alcohol and level the playing field between the off and on trade.

What minimum pricing would not do is penalise the sensible pub goer; the price of a pint of beer in their local pub would not change.

But the PM has backed away from minimum pricing following pressure from his Cabinet colleagues, few of whom ever darken the doors of their local pub unless it is election time and they have to smooze their consituents to get re-elected.

So no minimum pricing. So what is the coalition Government doing instead?  Hitting the sensible drinker, and the regular pub goer in their pocket, by continuing with the excise duty escallator originally introduced by Labour. And what is worse, tomorrow if we are to believe the leaks from the Treasury, the Chancellor will slap even more duty on booze to appease the health lobby. Not only will this not stop the cheap booze sales from supermarkets but will increase still further the pressure on community pubs.
 The abandonment of minimum alcohol unit pricing,  the continuation of the duty escallator and a further increase in excise duty is a triple nail in the coffin of the community pub. And this from a Government which claims the be "pub friendly."

Dozens of back bench MPs supported the motion to scrap the duty escallator . One can only hope that tomorrow, if Chancellor Osbourne does increase alcohol duty on top of the duty escallator, they will make their feeling known to him.

The Government has seen fit to abandon the fuel duty escallator because of its effect on the sensible car driver. So why can't the sensible pub goer be given the same consideration with the ending of the beer duty escallator which not only threatens so many community pubs and jobs, but actually fails to deliver the expected extra tax revenues? I await tomorrow's Budget with trepidation.  High Noon indeed!


  1. There is no below cost selling of alcohol, this is a fallacy propagated by the neo-prohibitionists and repeated by those who should know better.
    As for minimum pricing, do you really wish to see the fake charities of the so-called 'health' lobby have a permanent say in drinks pricing?

  2. Sad to see a campaign like CAMRA set itself on such a self defeating wrongheaded path against public opinion. They really do seem keen on consigning themselves to irrelevance and oblivion. Oh dear.