In today’s Budget announcement, Chancellor George Osborne has scrapped the alcohol duty escalator, meaning that alcohol duties will not rise 2% above inflation as previously planned. Instead, beer duty will be cut by one penny and duty on spirits and cider will be frozen.

Katherine Brown, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies says:

Today’s announcement to scrap the alcohol duty escalator is staggering. With alcohol costing the country £21 billion a year, and alcohol-related hospital admissions more than doubling over the last ten years, it comes as a shock to learn that the Chancellor believes that it is right to further incentivise drinking by making alcohol cheaper.

Alcohol is 61% more affordable today than it was in 1980 and current duty rates for strong white cider amount to just 6p per unit. Yet the Chancellor appears to think that isn’t cheap enough.

This decision, similar to the u-turn on minimum pricing, has been taken following an intense and aggressive lobbying campaign from the drinks industry. It is yet more evidence to suggest the Government has turned it’s back on public health and frontline workers such as nurses and police officers, who have to mop up the mess that alcohol creates day in day out.

It is yet another sad day to see how the profits of multinational alcohol producers have been prioritised over public health and safety.

To know why maintaining the alcohol duty escalator was so important for public health, please read the AHA document ‘The importance of maintaining the Alcohol Duty Escalator‘.