Belfast Telegraph

Calls to abandon drink tax hike

By Peter Cripps

There were fresh calls today for the Government to abandon its policy of increasing the duty on alcoholic drinks after new figures revealed falling beer sales are costing the Treasury £257m a year.

Successive above-inflation rises in alcohol duty have been blamed for a 3.9% decline in beer sales in 2010, the sixth annual drop in consumption, according to British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) figures.

Pubs bore the worst of the hit, recording a 7.5% drop in beer sales, the biggest annual fall since 2008, but sales through supermarkets and off-licences increased by 0.6% as consumers looked for ways to cut the cost of a pint.

The BBPA said the fall in beer sales is not only damaging communities by causing the closure of pubs but is causing the Government to lose tax revenues. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Huge tax rises are having a big impact on beer sales.

“Beer has always been a rich revenue source for government — but they may now be cooking the golden goose.

“As beer duty has increased so dramatically over the last few years, the amount of beer produced and sold in Britain has fallen.”

Belfast Telegraph