Responding to the announcements from the Chancellor in the Budget today, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said:
“The decision to freeze alcohol duty today is a huge blow for the health of our population. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths caused by alcohol have hit a new record high in England and Wales and high-risk drinking increased by almost 90% between February and June last year. Alcohol treatment services are on their knees whilst off-trade alcohol sales have hit new heights.
“It is absurd that despite the mounting strain that alcohol places on our NHS and public services, the Government has taken the decision – yet again – to freeze alcohol duty, prioritising the interests of the alcohol industry above this country’s health.
“The Government has been persuaded by the alcohol industry’s misleading claim that duty freezes will help prevent pub closures. The evidence shows that duty freezes do not benefit pubs, instead they accelerate consumer shift towards low-priced alcohol at supermarkets, making it harder for pubs to compete.
“This Budget represents a failure to take alcohol harm seriously and the most vulnerable in our society will continue to suffer the consequences.”