Chancellor of the Exchequer freezes alcohol duty until February 2025 in his Spring Budget 2024 announcement

March 2024 | 7 minutes

Earlier this week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer laid out his plans in his Spring Budget.

What is the Spring Budget?

Every year in March, the Chancellor stands at the despatch box in the House of Commons Chamber, and provides an update to Members of Parliament and the public regarding the overall health of the economy and announce additional fiscal plans for the year ahead. In the previous Spring Budget 2023, alcohol duty was raised in line with inflation, and a decision that Alcohol Change UK welcomed as alcohol duty had mainly been cut or frozen in the last decade This year, we have been asking the government to increase alcohol duty in line with inflation (+2%) once again.

What did the Chancellor announce in terms of alcohol duty?

Unfortunately, at this year’s Spring Budget 2024, the Chancellor revealed further freezes on alcohol duty until February 2025 and we were truly disappointed to hear this. This means the alcohol industry will continue to profit from alcohol harm at a time when it is at the highest level. It also means that at a time where growing the economy should be a priority during the cost-of-living crisis, the Treasury is estimated to lose £185million between 2024-2025 and £345 million between 2025-2026 based on the current freezes.

What did Alcohol Change UK ask for from this Spring Budget?

To summarise our alcohol pricing policy ask, here’s what Alcohol Change UK submitted to the Treasury to deliver in this Budget to help us tackle alcohol harm:

  • Due to previous alcohol duty freezes, in 2020 it was reported that alcohol became 14% more affordable in comparison to other food and drinks. Based on this, we urged the Treasury to continue setting the duty rate to at least match the rate of inflation or 2% above.
  • An Ipsos polling in July 2023 suggested that 49% of the public perceived taxes on alcohol and tobacco as ‘fair’ and 18% put alcohol duty in their top three priorities. This shows that the public are aware of the detrimental impacts alcohol causes the society and would like a solution to tackle an avoidable harm.
  • Research from University of Sheffield highlights that if the government had maintained the duty escalator between 2020-32 then it would save another 5,000 lives and prevent approximately 170,000 hospital admissions.1
  • The knock on effect from past alcohol duty freezes has inevitably led to £1 billion hole in the public finances which places unprecedented burdens on the tax-payers. By increasing alcohol duty by 2% above inflation, the Treasury can recover the social and economic costs that alcohol industry creates. This is crucial to help recover our economy and help to tackle alcohol harm.

This is likely the final Budget announced by Jeremy Hunt before the country is taken to a General Election. Although we did not achieve our goal in this Budget, our campaign to increase alcohol duty will continue! If you’d like to support our campaign then please get in touch! All campaigners support is greatly appreciated.

We understand that sometimes following the Budget and placing alcohol duty within that framework can be tricky. Find out more on why increasing alcohol duty is an effective measure to tackle harm.

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1 Angus, C. and Henney, M. (2019) Modelling the impact of alcohol duty policies since 2012 in England and Scotland. The University of Sheffield and IAS.