By Greg de Hoedt
In the ConDems UK budget for 2013 chancellor George Osbourne was expected to increase the tax on all alcohol but made a dramatic u-turn and decreased it for beer at the last minute.
The move that will support the beer industry was hailed as “brilliant” and “momentous” by drinker’s group Camra (Campaigning for Real Ale), who have been campaigning for drinker’s rights since 1971.
George Osbourne who has been very unpopular throughout his time as chancellor for backing big business and the banks rather than the people, making cuts to those worst off in society, increasing poverty and homelessness by tens of thousands and helping the rich get richer said, “I expect it to be passed on in full to the customer”.
The VAT and duties on a pint work out to about £1 but due to the economic decline raw materials and the energy to produce beer has increased.
In the last 10 years 10,000 pubs have been forced to close their doors but Camra gathered more than 100,000 names on a petition last year calling for a freeze on duty and this lead to a parliamentary debate.
Brigid Simmoonds, Chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the price cut and abolition of the escalator was “absolutely brilliant news. By cutting the tax on beer, he has moved to boost jobs in Britain’s pubs at a time when it is most needed.”
This comes shortly after the announcement of the cost of Alcohol to Britain which totals up to a shocking £20billion a year. One has to wonder what steps Camra and the alcohol industry actually do to help reduce the personal and social harm and cost to the taxpayer.
Looking at the last Alcohol Statistics published in 2012 we can see that the NHS took a hit of £2.7billion in 2006/7 prices, and as there has been quite an economic turn since then it wouldn’t be off the beaten track to think that number has escalated. The last published figures for deaths attributable to alcohol consumption were in 2009 stating 15,401 deaths (10,289 for men and 5,111 for women). In 2008 it was claimed that alcohol misuse was at an epidemic but the Government said this was OK as it was “tradition”. Alcohol misuse is also the cause of Korsakoff’s Syndrome, which causes false memories, blackouts, amnesia, lack of insight and depression.
Add on £7.3billion a year (in 2001 prices – again room to inflate for 12 years) for social harm and policing costs. There are many victims of alcohol misuse – not just those that drink far more than they can handle but those who unwittingly cross the path of one of these over-consumers and receive the back end of alcohol intoxication’s abusive side effects. What is more entertaining to watch on Police, Camera, Action? A pissed up guy fighting the police, or the police stop and searching a black man’s car in case he’s got a joint in the car?
Then there’s the further £6.4billion a year cost to the UK economy from lack of productivity due to people taking days off or being hung-over at work – and they say smoking cannabis makes you lazy!
The newest Alcohol Statistics will be published in May and can be found here with the previous years’ data, although much of it is regurgitated year upon year.
If you want to find the Government’s detailed statistics on cannabis misuse in order to see if the figures reflect their stance that it is “very harmful, very toxic and can lead to serious mental health problems” then you are out of luck and will have to just take their word for it…
As if those consuming alcohol were not getting an unequal and preferred treatment from the Government already, information surfaced today that MPs receive a subsidy on the alcohol they drink in parliament – at the taxpayers’ expense – that racks up to £6million a year. Considering their wage is almost 2.5 times the country’s average (£65k a year vs. the average 26.5k in 2012) and they get expenses and a second home (for which they have just been granted an extra £100 per year) paid for on top of that… you would think they could get pissed out of their own pocket.
Some of them do more than get drunk though when they are being traditional in parliament. Eric Joyce, Labour MP for Falkirk was arrested for head-butting another MP last year in the Strangers Bar and was again arrested at an incident in the Sports and Social Bar last week though he has denied he was drunk and had only had “by any standard a modest amount”.
Prof. David Nutt who once chaired the ACMD before being fired for recommending cannabis not be reclassified to a Class B and for stating that MDMA was safer than Alcohol, gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee enquiry into drugs policy and stated that if the sale of cannabis were allowed as it is in Dutch Coffeeshops up to 25% of people would move from drink to cannabis because they know it’s safer and about 85% of the population currently drink. Imagine a £5billion saving (25% of £20bn) just by legalising cannabis sales – and that’s got nothing to do with the income that it would generate or the jobs it would provide, or the savings to the NHS as a safer and more effective medicine.
GW Pharmaceuticals have even tried cannabis extracts to treat alcohol addiction and found them to be successful along with treating other serious drug addictions such as opiates and cocaine.
Although cannabis is a close relation to the hop plant which beer is made from, which also contains trichomes and also a highly medicinal compound called Caryophyllene, cannabis consumers did not get the same chance to celebrate over the 2013 budget. No one ever cuts the dealers tax! Those that don’t grow their own or buy it from a known source are forced to buy it elsewhere and that money usually goes to organised crime… no not the banks – actual gangsters that carry guns and spread fear in communities, who then launder the money, and the banks who know where it is coming from happily take it.
Something to consider – found at the end of Alcohol Statistics.
The Government has legislated via the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011
To overhaul the Licensing Act 2003 and to rebalance it in favour of local communities. These reforms give the police and licensing authorities more local powers to shape their night-time economies and to tackle irresponsible premises, particularly those selling alcohol to children. Local health bodies are now Responsible Authorities under the Licensing Act and allow them to make a fuller contribution to reducing acute harms from alcohol.
Evidence suggests that increased outlet density is linked to alcohol-related harms. The Government will introduce a new density power that will enable licensing authorities to consider local health harms specifically when introducing Cumulative Impact Policies. This will be framed under a limited licensing objective ‘protecting and improving public health’