There is a lot I could say about the budget, but not within the remit of this blog. As the BBC tersely put it, no change in duty on cigarettes alcohol or fuel this time round, and Labour's plan to increase the duty on cider by 10% above inflation will be scrapped from July. This was an increase that I really couldn't see the point of, especially from a Labour Party that claimed to be business friendly ~ cider makers and sellers are businesses too.
This Budget simply means that no additional damage will be done to our struggling pub industry in the short term, at least not until next January when the 20% VAT rate comes into force: this will push up the combined taxation on a pint of beer to over a pound, and accelerate the rate of pub closures if no counter-balancing measures are taken. The raising in April 2011 of the threshold at which employers start to pay National Insurance may provide some marginal help for pubs as employers, but that's your lot as far as pubs are concerned. The Chancellor did say he would look at alcohol associated with binge drinking later in the year, but the gap between pub and supermarket prices is now so vast that if he decided to do anything about it, it would have to be so severe that I wonder whether he'd have the nerve. We'll see.