Public considers alcohol taxes a government ‘cash cow’

30th October, 2017 by Michael J Ritchie

A YouGov poll commissioned by Drinker’s Voice has found that most people believe tax on alcohol primarily serves to raise money for the government.

Less than 10% of people believe that alcohol tax helps improve public health services.

In a poll of around 1,700 people, respondents “overwhelmingly believe” that taxes are not used to improve public health services.

Only 8% believed that the tax increases would raise money for public health improvements, while two thirds of people felt that tax increases were more about “raising money for government”.

Following recent increases, a shop-bought bottle of spirits has a cost made up of 77% tax.

Chair of Drinker’s Voice, the alcohol consumer organisation, Byron Davies, said: “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 £10.7 billion a year in alcohol duty.

“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, added: “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.”

Philip Hammond will publish the government’s Autumn Budget on 22 November, which will announce whether alcohol tax will be increased, cut or frozen.

The news follows the announcement that Wales is introducing minimum unit pricing on alcoholic drinks.

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