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alcohol health alliance uk

Balance responds to Budget 2014

Posted 19/03/14

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Chancellor George Osborne has listened to the global alcohol industry and decided to scrap the alcohol duty escalator. He has gone even further than they demanded by freezing duty on whisky and cider and reducing it on beer.

“Cheap, strong alcohol is already the drink of choice for children and heavy drinkers. The duty on white cider is currently only 6p a unit, yet it is often found in the hands of children. Alcohol is already 61% more affordable than it was in 1980, as a result of which consumption has doubled since the middle of the last century.

“Our region already suffers at the hands of alcohol. As well as costing the North East around £1.1bn each year, we have the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions, the highest rate of alcohol-specific hospital admissions for under 18s and the highest rate of under 18s in alcohol treatment services. This is driven by alcohol which is too cheap, too available and too widely promoted.

“Last year the Government was persuaded by the alcohol industry to abandon plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol, a measure which is proven to save lives, cut crime and save money by increasing the price of the most damaging products. This latest decision will make a bad situation worse and will do nothing to improve the lives of nurses, police officers, ambulance staff – and some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”