Calls for government to increase alcohol duty

Calls are being made for the Government to increase alcohol duty in its Budget to help fund public health and prevention services.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 8:00 am
Colin Shevills, director of Balance.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office is backing the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) – a coalition of more than 50 leading UK health organisations – who are urging the Government to increase alcohol duty by two per cent above inflation to tackle the harm caused by alcohol and fund the NHS.

They say research by the University of Sheffield shows that government cuts to alcohol taxes have resulted in nearly 2,000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012.

Separate figures for the North East show alcohol results in around 1,500 deaths a year (2017) while it costs the NHS £209million a year for services such as hospital admissions, A&E attendances, ambulance callouts and treatment for alcohol dependency (2015-16).

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “We are all conscious about the pressures our schools, our NHS and our police forces are under – it is time to say no to more alcohol tax cuts when this money could help fund the vital front line services most of us rely on.

“It is ironic that the alcohol industry is benefiting from around £1billion in alcohol duty reductions every year, while it costs the North East £1billion a year to mop up the fallout from the product they are selling.

“The burden alcohol places on society is unsustainable and we’re all paying the price. In the next Budget, the Government has an opportunity to act by ending tax cuts for the alcohol industry.

“We are urging them to prioritise public services, including the NHS, police and education system, and intervene to bring alcohol harms under control.”