The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has expressed disappointment in the government’s decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator.
The duty escalator, introduced in 2008, ensured that the duty rate on all alcoholic drinks rose by 2% above the rate of inflation every year. The alcohol duty escalator was designed to reduce the affordability of alcohol, which is one of the most effective ways of addressing alcohol-related harm.
Responding to the chancellor’s 2014 budget statement, Sir Richard Thompson, president of the RCP, said:
Scrapping the alcohol duty escalator will increase the burden on taxpayers by putting even more pressure on frontline services struggling to cope with the harm caused by alcohol.
Reducing the affordability of alcohol is recognised internationally as one of the most effective ways of addressing alcohol harm. Today’s decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator is a backwards step.
The cost of alcohol harm in the UK is estimated to exceed £21billion per year, which is more than double the £10 billion total revenues collected from alcohol duties. The taxpayer is already paying billions of pounds to deal with alcohol related harm, now is not the time to scrap the alcohol duty escalator.
Once again a clear opportunity to reduce the harm to the public caused by alcohol has been ignored by the government.
The RCP welcomes the chancellor’s decision to extend the 2% above inflation annual tobacco tax rise for the whole of the next parliament, but it falls short of the 5% rise called for by the RCP and other health organisations.
For further information, please contact RCP public affairs manager, Andrew McCracken, on 0203 075 1354, 07990 745 608 or via email@example.com