Gordon Brown has announced that he is not going to implement the recommendation that alcohol be sold at a minimum price of 50p a unit because, he says, he does not want to penalise the majority of sensible drinkers. Yet he is happy with his Chancellor's beer escalator whereby beer duty will increase at more than the rate of inflation, which is hitting pubs the hardest out of all the outlets that sell alcohol. A bottle of supermarket vodka is in alcoholic terms the equivalent of about 12 or 13 pints of standard beer, and locally you can buy it for around £7. Compare that to the price of 12 or 13 pints in a pub and then explain how this pricing regime favours the sensible drinker. The duty on scotch has scarcely changed since 1997; is it a coincidence that Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Tony Blair are all Scottish?
I'm not convinced that a minimum price on alcohol will cut alcohol problems - alcoholics will find a way to drink no matter what the tax regime is - but a real cut in beer tax will definitely help struggling pubs and the sensible drinkers Gordon claims to care about.
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