Thursday 20 October 2011

But I don't drink 7.5% beer ...

As you may know, the government has introduced a higher rate of duty for beers above 7.5%.  They say it will pay for cutting the duty on beers below 2.8%, but frankly I'm not convinced; anyone who accepts this excuse at face of value has underestimated the deviousness of governments.  Having established the principle of different levels of duty, it would be a simple matter in future to reduce the percentage point at which the higher level of duty is payable, say to 6.5% in a couple of years' time, then to 5.5%, and so on, all rationalised by arguments about health, binge drinking and public disorder.  Once the principle has been established, changing when the higher rate of duty kicks in is a mere detail.

I rarely drink beer of such strength, but if the trigger point for higher duty was reduced in stages to, say, 5%, then it would begin to affect me, my preferred strengths being in the 4 to 5.5% range.  So that's one of the reasons why I've signed this petition calling on the government to reverse the tax increase, even though it doesn't affect me at present. 

The petition gives other reasons to oppose this measure: "the higher rate of tax levied on beers brewed at 7.5% or above will have an adverse effect not only on small innovative British Breweries, but also on the independent retailers and local pubs who stock their produce.  The way to tackle binge drinking amongst the young is with education not taxation." 

The social anthropologist Kate Fox argued recently (see my previous post) that scaremongering and punitive tax increases are not only ineffectual but often counter-productive, meaning that government alcohol initiatives are a complete mess.  This measure is just more of the same.  It's time politicians took a mature and sensible approach to alcohol, not driven by tabloid headlines and the desire to be seen to "do something", believing that doing anything is better than doing nothing.  Too often that simply isn't true.  Please sign.


  1. Thanks for linking to the petition.
    Simon | CAMRGB

  2. Interesting that you rarely drink above 7.5% and prefer the 4.0 to 5.5% range.

    As a Belgian beer lover I drink a lot of beer over 7.5%. Conversely, when drinking cask ale I prefer 4.0% or less!

  3. Well said!

    The lower tax on 2.8% beers is a smokescreen, seriously how many of these beers are there? Most lower percentage beers are 3.5 - 4% and as you say the level will be lowered.

    The problems with binge drinking are not due any particular alcohol type but bad education and stupid promotions in places whether it be supermarket or bar.


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