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‘Public’ says alcohol taxes a cash cow for government

Published:  29 October, 2017

Just one in 10 of the British public believe that increased taxes on alcohol goes towards helping people who misuse alcohol, according to new research by Drinkers’ Voice released today.

In the poll of nearly 1,700 people by the alcohol consumer organisation, respondents overwhelmingly believed that taxes did not go towards improving public health services.

A mere 8% agreed an increase in taxes was more about raising money to improve public health, with two thirds of people feeling tax increases were more about raising money for government, said Drinkers’ Voice - a new network, launched in September 2017, of moderate drinkers across the UK seeking “honest balance in the debate on alcohol and health”. 

The research follows the announcement by the Welsh government this week its intention to further increase the price of alcohol by introducing minimum unit pricing on alcoholic drinks in Wales.

While the government believes this would reduce alcohol misuse, critics think it’s an attack on low income earners.

A blanket approach seeking to make alcohol less accessible to everyone was not the answer, said Byron Davies, chair of Drinkers’ Voice, adding what was needed was targeted support for those grappling with a drink problem.

“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, but 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,” he said.

Tax now makes up 77% of the cost of a shop bought bottle of spirits, and 56% of the cost of a bottle of wine. The government’s Autumn Budget will set out whether it will increase, cut or freeze taxes on alcohol in November.