The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has claimed there is no justification for further beer tax increases, after new figures have revealed a drop in alcohol consumption has, according to Government figures, saved the economy £804m.
According to data from HM Revenue and Customs, the level of alcohol consumption fell by 3.2 per cent in 2008 as a result of the 2007 smoking ban, rising beer tax and the current economic climate.
Subsequently, the UK’s alcohol harm bill has been dramatically reduced by £804m, a saving that could add up to £8bn over the next ten years if the level of consumption is maintained.
Now, after 2,000 pub closures and 20,000 redundancies in the past year, the BBPA is urging the Government to take the saving into consideration before they announce further beer tax increases and a mandatory code of conduct as part of the Policing and Crime Bill.
Mark Hastings, BBPA director of communications, said the figures proved the common perception of rising alcohol consumption to be false, pointing out Government policy needed to be based on ‘facts and not reflect the myths on alcohol.’
“The amount we drink as a nation is falling and this is now a consistent trend since the introduction of the Licensing Act in 2005,” he continued. “Based on the Government’s own method of calculating alcohol related harm, the figures show that current trends are cutting billions from the nation’s alcohol harm bill. This calls into question the case for pressing ahead with further punitive increases in tax increases and costly red tape, as the Government seems determined to do.”
Just this week Gordon Brown dismissed calls from the Government’s top medical advisor to enforce a minimum price for alcohol, claiming the move could penalise the majority of sensible drinkers for the excesses of the minority.