Government answers drinks tax petition

The government has responded to a petition calling on the government not to raise alcohol taxes any further, run by OLN’s sister paper the Morning Advertiser.

More than 1,100 people signed the petition asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to resist calls by the Alcohol Health Alliance to raise taxes by as much as 30% in a bid to tackle binge-drinking.

The Prime Minister’s office responded: “The government does not see alcohol duty as a prime tool for tackling the problems associated with alcohol consumption. Accordingly, in the 2008 pre-Budget report, changes to alcohol duty were limited to those necessary to ensure that the tax burden on the relevant products remained broadly unchanged. However, as with all taxes, alcohol duty rates will be kept under review.”

“The UK already has some of the highest duty rates on alcohol in Europe and evidence from high-tax Scandinavian countries has shown that increased duty does not lead to a reduction in heavy drinking," the petition said.

“Higher alcohol tax would be extremely damaging for pubs, which are struggling with the impact of the smoking ban, excessive red tape and competition from supermarkets that can offer beer for as little as 22p a can. It would also penalise the majority of drinkers who consume alcohol responsibly and don’t want to be burnt every time they order at the bar. Higher alcohol tax would be bad for business, bad for the drinker and bad for Britain.”

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