This week there was a budget and the price of beer went up. In other news, the sky is blue and the grass is green. Lately, it seems, along with death and taxes this is the one thing that you can guarantee.
I have blogged many blogs on the terrible travesty of beer duty, so there’s not much more to say really; well maybe just a couple of points…
Firstly the duty is clearly punitive; the Government saving us from ourselves. Because we can’t be trusted to make the right lifestyle choices for the good of our health, nanny has to help. The Government must be seen to be ‘doing something’ to pacify Daily Mail readers and their fixation on ‘binge Britain’
The solution: since 2008, there has been a beer duty escalator which raises duty at 2% above inflation every year. The last Government raised duty by 60%, giving the UK the second highest rate of duty in the UK after Finland.
So does this help? Not really! Sure, it kills pubs, which have to put up prices so high that people can’t afford to drink there – before the budget CAMRA estimated the average price of a pint of beer in the pub at £2.84, although the £3 pint has actually been with us in many places for some time. On the face of it the budget adds 4 pence per pint, but at the pump that is likely to become more like 10p. Duty and VAT now account for over £1 of the cost of your pint.
But pubs and real ale aren’t really the problem for ‘binge Britain’. For that we have to look to cheap booze sold 24 hours from supermarkets and off-licences. These are affected much less, and it is to these places that people turn when they can no longer afford the social environment of the pub.
Britain should be proud of its unique pub and beer heritage, not try to kill it off. I make no excuses for repeating this excellent video by SIBA that makes the point perfectly:
And whilst on the subject of heritage, the Government has recently been banging on about increasing the tourist industry to these fair isles. They are even talking about shifting around Bank Holidays to support this idea.
However, if you ask a bunch of random tourists from around the world what best epitomises England I’m betting that pubs and beer would be up there toward the top of the list – so if for this reason alone, for the love of the gods stop forcing them out of business!
Here’s another good video to make the point, this time from CAMRA:
So, by all means drown your post-budget sorrows this weekend, but do so in the pub – whilst you still can.