Monday, 17 October 2011

Brewing Betrayed

The government reviewed alcohol taxation policy late last year, inviting interested parties to attend discussions at the Treasury and to submit reports accordingly. We were asked what tweaks might be made that would result in lower levels of alcohol abuse.

The BBPA publish a statistical handbook each year which details all kinds of facts and figures. OK, it isn't entirely independent but it must remain credible or it's a waste of resources. So they don't publish bull shit. My mate Wicksie, a man who likes playing with figures, extracted the following:

Data: Since 1997 consumption in litres per head
Beer down 28%
Cider up 60%
Wine up 39%
Spirits up 21%

You'll note that beer, the lowest strength alcoholic drink, is in sharp decline whilst stronger drink consumption is growing er, strongly. So, after consultation, what did the government come up with? High Strength Beer Duty (HSBD). Yup, tax the hell out of Tennants Stupid and don't worry about collateral damage. So beer at 9% abv is now taxed at a higher rate than a 15% wine.

Justine Greening MP, recent incumbent in the Treasury, tells me she doesn't want to penalise the majority of (responsible) drinkers, ie, those fetching bottles of wine from the supermarkets in middle England, returning home to pass out on the couch, far from the Sunday newspaper photographers.

I think this is a class issue and that the government know full well what must be done, but are unwilling to do it.

Meanwhile the poor die. And our indigenous manufacturing industry that is brewing, together with the retail arm that is the pub trade, employing a million people in the UK, is collapsing. My MP doesn't seem to get it, does yours?


Owen said...

I'm genuinely curious where you're getting your numbers from, because according to the HMRC website, 9% beer pays £2.09 per litre, while 15% wine pays £2.41 per litre.

Owen said...

Eyeballing your graph, it looks like you're applying a rate of ~£28/litre to beers over 7.5%, when in fact it's £23.21

My immediate thought is that you're applying HSBD as a 50% premium over the standard beer duty, when it's only 25%.

I don't disagree that HSBD (and beer duty in general) is too high and the entire duty system needs to be overhauled, but it's important we get the facts straight lest we hand ammunition to beer's detractors.

Eddie said...

Well done Owen, complete bollocks on my part, I did apply 50% - to be honest I didn't check, didn't think I needed to. I now realise I was thinking of the personal impact whereby it'll represent 50% to me (pbd & all that).

Feel thoroughly ashamed of my stupidity.

Thanks again, I'll edit this post later.

Owen said...

It's not the first time I've seen the 9% figure quoted, so you're not alone.

I wrote a short piece on my own blog about why I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to compare beer and wine in this way.

Thomas said... Several wrong facts here. I complained. I received an e-mail and they forwarded it to the Treasury but nothing back.

Consumption of products over 7.5 per cent abv is dominated by males
over 35 and in lower socio-economic groups. 84 per cent of
consumption is by males; 75 per cent by over 35s (male and female); and
around half by individuals in the lowest socio-economic groups.

Says it all really. Kill the poor. Protect the rich. It's the 80s again. Cameron is out of touch with society.