Calls for duty to be brought back on booze

Campaigners say any cuts to drink prices in this year’s Budget would be bad news for the NHS and economy.

Officials at Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, say making alcohol cheaper would have a negative impact.

The alcohol industry has campaigned for duty to be lowered after the government abolished the alcohol duty escalator last year.

Now Balance is backing calls for the government to bring back the alcohol duty escalator in this year’s budget.

The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) is urging political parties to stop listening to the industry and pledge their support for a range of recommendations so that alcohol duty makes a fairer contribution to reducing alcohol’s burden on society.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “Enough alcohol is sold in the north east for every drinker to be consuming at or above the recommended male weekly limit, putting them at risk of a myriad of health conditions.

“Cutting alcohol prices further will only lead to increased sales of alcohol, more harm for the people of the north east and extra pressure on our health services. Meanwhile, alcohol companies will be bringing in bigger profits.”

“Alcohol has a huge impact on our frontline services here in the north east. Politicians can help to lessen that strain and the toll on public health by supporting the measures that the AHA is proposing.

“The Government has given in to the industry before on the alcohol duty escalator and we’re calling on all political parties to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“We need to see policies that address pricing taken seriously. Making alcohol more affordable is not the answer.

“On the contrary, we need the introduction of a minimum unit price at a level which will price cheap, strong alcohol out of the hands of children and heavy drinkers while not affecting those people who drink at moderate levels.”