Calls for a 10% higher tax on alcohol products would “devastate the pubs industry”, according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
A study published last week by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute and the Institute of Alcohol Studies concluded that raising alcohol taxes could benefit the UK economy and society by increasing both national income and employment, provided the additional revenue is invested in public services.
The researchers estimated that with a 10% increase in alcohol tax UK GDP would rise by £847m and there would be over 17,000 more full-time equivalent jobs.
CAMRA, however, has hit back claiming the study applies a broad-brush strategy to a complex situation. “Yes, supermarket beer is significantly more affordable today than it was in 1987, but the price of a pint within a pub has continued to rise,” said CAMRA’s National chairman Nik Antona.
“Calling for a 10% higher tax on alcohol products will not only impact on cheap supermarket beers, but it will also devastate the pubs industry, which is already over-burdened by VAT, beer duty and business rates. Over a third of the cost of a pint in a pub is made up by taxes, which is incomparable to beer sold in supermarkets that are able to under-sell the product and absorb additional taxes.”
Antona said that to really benefit society, supermarkets should be asked to pay a higher rate of tax on alcohol than pubs. “This would not only help support the pubs trade but also support the public health message that enjoying a pint in moderation in a supervised and social environment is better than chugging cheap cans at home.”