Alcohol duty announcement welcomed

March 2023 | 6 minutes

Alcohol Change UK warmly welcomes measures announced in today's budget statement by Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the rise in alcohol duty.

Commenting on the increase, Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, said:

"We warmly welcome the Government keeping alcohol duty in line with inflation from August 2023. Despite intense lobbying from private interests, the Government has put the public finances - and the public’s health - first.

"For too many years, alcohol duties have seen real terms cuts, leading to alcohol (an addictive and highly dangerous substance) becoming more and more affordable, which in turn leads to increased consumption and harm.

“Alcohol is the number one risk factor in death, ill-health and disability amongst the working age population. And more alcohol harm means lower economic growth due to ill health and under-employment. Alcohol is behind a very significant proportion of the people who are not working due to long-term ill health.

"We are currently facing a genuine crisis in alcohol harm. The number of alcohol deaths increased massively during the COVID-19 restrictions and, rather than fall back, deaths are remaining at historically high levels. Whether from cancer, stroke, liver disease, suicide, drownings, car crashes, drink-fuelled violence, or any other cause, every single alcohol death is avoidable. Ensuring that alcohol is more expensive is one of the simplest and most effective solutions.

"That is why we welcome this measure. We now need the Government to make this a pattern, not a one-off, and to go further: to acknowledge that a decade of real terms cuts in alcohol duty has seriously eroded its value; and to reinstate the smart Alcohol Duty Escalator - introduced by Labour in 2008 and continued by the Coalition Government - which increases alcohol duty by 2% above inflation annually.

"We also support the measure to reduce the duty paid for draught products in pubs. The greatest alcohol harm happens as a result of alcohol purchased from supermarkets and corner shops. Pubs, as supervised environments, can be safer places to consume alcohol."