Doctors slam George Osborne’s spirits duty cut

20th March, 2015 by Amy Hopkins

Doctors, charities and health campaigners have slammed the UK Chancellor’s “shameful” decision to cut spirits duty by 2%, claiming this prioritises “interests of big business over public health”.


The Alcohol Health Alliance has hit out at the 2% cut to spirits duty in the UK

Alcohol Health Alliance has criticised Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement in Wednesday’s 2015 Budget Statement that spirits and cider duty would be cut by 2%, wine duty would be frozen and one penny would be knocked off the price of a pint of beer.

“It is disgraceful that the Chancellor has once again prioritised the interests of big business over public health by giving further tax breaks to the alcohol industry,” said Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of Alcohol Health Alliance.

“This decision is a slap in the face to our doctors, nurses and emergency services on the front line that are paying the price for this cut. With over one million alcohol-related hospital attendances every year, our NHS simply cannot afford for alcohol to get cheaper.”

Gilmore added that alcohol-related harm costs the UK £21bn every year, with less than half of this recouped through levels of taxation.

Meanwhile, Dr Cliff Mann, president of the Royal College of Emergency Services, said the link between cost and alcohol-related injury and illness is “beyond doubt”, and that a minimum pricing policy for alcohol should be introduced.

However, members of the drinks trade applauded the cuts, saying this addresses the “onerous” level of tax on spirits.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) joined forces with the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and the Tax Payers’ Alliance lobbied the government for a 2% reduction in spirits duty in the Drop the Duty campaign.

David Frost, chief executive of the SWA, said the cut sends as “important signal on fair taxation” to the Scotch industry’s export markets, and will also allow the sector to grow in the UK.

The SWA previously blamed the 5% decline of the UK market for Scotch whisky in 2014 on the country’s “excessive” levels of tax on spirits.

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