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Alcohol Taxes are a Cash Cow for Government, Say Public

  • New research by Drinkers’ Voice highlights that just 1 in 10 of us believe that increased taxes on alcohol go towards helping people who misuse alcohol
  • In a poll of nearly 1700 people, respondents overwhelmingly believe that taxes do not go towards improving public health services.
  • Only 8% agreed that an increase in taxes was more about raising money to improve public health.
  • Two thirds of people felt tax increases was more about raising money for government.
  • With taxes on alcohol increasing over recent years, tax now makes up 77% of the cost of a shop bought bottle of spirits, and 56% of the cost of a bottle of wine.

This news comes after the Welsh government announced this week its intention to further increase the price of alcohol by introducing minimum unit pricing on alcoholic drinks in Wales. The government believe that this will reduce alcohol misuse, while critics believe it is an attack on low income earners.

Byron Davies, Chair of the alcohol consumer organisation, Drinkers’ Voice, and former Member of Parliament for Gower, says:

‘The transparent attacks made by so-called health campaigners who are trying to portray drinking as the new smoking has encouraged successive governments to drive up taxes on alcohol. The UK government currently receives as much as £10.7bn a year in alcohol duty, and it is shameful that the Welsh government is now looking to increase the costs of a drink for consumers even more so.

The majority of us who do drink, do so responsibly, and it is clear that simply pricing low income earners out of drinking does little to help the few who do abuse alcohol. A blanket approach which seeks to make alcohol less accessible to everyone is not the answer – what is needed is targeted support for those who are grappling with a drink problem.’

John O’Connell, Chief Executive of Taxpayers’ Alliance, adds:

“The British public are not fools and they know that higher taxes on drinks are imposed simply to boost Treasury coffers. People who work hard all day and relax with a drink in the evening are seen as little more than cash cows by bureaucrats desperately scrambling around for taxpayers’ money to fritter away. The government must stop pandering to the nanny statists in the public health lobby, and instead show they are on the side of the consumer by cutting alcohol duty.”

The government’s Autumn Budget will set out whether it will increase, cut or freeze taxes on alcohol in November.

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