Belfast Telegraph

High UK drinks taxes jeopardise jobs and trade, says report

By Alan Jones

Alcohol taxes in the UK are among the highest in Europe, threatening jobs and leading to less booze being drunk, new figures claim.

The average price of a pint in a pub has now broken the £3 barrier for the first time, partly due to "huge" tax increases, said the British Beer -amp; Pub Association (BBPA). Its report states that alcohol consumption increased by 0.6% last year, but was 11% lower than in 2004, and was below the European average.

UK drinkers paid the second-highest taxes in the EU on beer and wine and the fourth highest on spirits, said the BBPA.

The gap between alcohol taxes in the UK and other European countries grew last year, with those here eight times higher than in France and 11 times higher than in Germany, said the report.

Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said: "When it comes to alcohol, we need a debate based on the hard facts. Tax rates have soared to unprecedented levels at a time when household budgets are stretched.

"Huge, 35% rises in beer taxes in the past three years have been deeply damaging to British brewers, who operate one of our most innovative and successful manufacturing industries."

The North East is cheapest for beer, pub wine costs least in the Midlands and Wales is best for spirits, according to the study.