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alcohol health alliance uk

Response to the Budget

Man drinking beer

Man drinking beer

Posted 11/03/20

Responding to the announcements from the Chancellor in the Budget today, Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “In freezing alcohol duty, the Chancellor has made a conscious decision to put the profits of the alcohol industry above the health of the public in the North East and across the country.

“Our NHS is likely to be under increasing pressures in the coming weeks and months. Figures already show that around 4/10 emergency department attendances around the country are attributable to alcohol and it could be as much as 70% at peak times. This represents another missed opportunity to help ease an additional pressure of cheap alcohol.

“It’s important to note that in real terms, freezing alcohol duty represents a cut in alcohol duty – which has been costing the Government £1.2bn every year since 2012. While the alcohol industry continues to benefit from the reductions in alcohol duty, our frontline services are continuing to mop up the fallout from the products they sell.

“Since 2012, successive governments’ decisions to cut or freeze alcohol duty have led to almost 2,000 additional deaths and £314m in extra costs to NHS services, which are already overstretched.

“The North East already experiences the highest rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions and alcohol-related deaths in the country, with some of the most vulnerable people in society worst affected.

“It is a real shame that the Government has chosen to prioritise the alcohol industry once again. Research has found that publicans themselves say that they don’t see the benefits of alcohol duty cuts – they only accelerate the shift from pubs towards supermarkets, making it harder for pubs to compete. This Budget has fundamentally failed to tackle alcohol harm and people in the North East will continue to suffer.”