Britain hikes drinks tax to curb pub rage

July 2nd, 2008 - 12:52 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 2 (IANS) Britain’s pubs have never had it so bad. First it was the smoking ban, then a curb on live shows, and now, heavier taxes on alcohol - the latest step to check violence. If the government has its way, the taxes will rocket by around 31 percent in the next five years. So a pint of beer will cost 3.18 pounds or 3.38 pounds, depending on whether the pub is in a small town or in London.

Patrons will no longer get the cheapest bottle of wine for under 3 pounds. The price will go up by as much as 1.71 pounds.

As to the single malts and other exotic forms of ambrosia, just do not think about it.

The plan, unveiled in a Department of Health document, will see tax on a typical 2.68-pound pint rise from 39 pence now to 51 pence in 2013, reports the Daily Mirror.

The government says the move is aimed at discouraging public drinking, the biggest source of pub and street violence in Britain.

The protesters counter, saying it is another blow to millions of hard-working families hit by the credit crunch and rising inflation.

Jeremy Beadles of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association fumed: “It’s time to ease the pain on hard-pressed families, not make it worse.”

British Beer and Pub Association chief Rob Hayward added: “We’ve always argued there are better ways of targeting problem drinkers than hitting the population at large with price increases.”

In March’s budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling vowed to increase alcohol tax by two percent above inflation. But what it would mean to the average Briton over the next five years has never been spelled out so starkly until now.

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