DDN November 2021 November 2021 - Page 4


Chancellor announces radical overhaul of alcohol duty system


‘ major simplification ’ of the alcohol duty system was announced by the chancellor , Rishi Sunak , as part of the Autumn Budget . Drinks are to be taxed in proportion to their alcohol content , making the system fairer and healthier , the government states . The move has been enabled by the ‘ regulatory and legislative flexibilities ’ of leaving the EU , says Autumn budget and spending review 2021 .
‘ Now that the UK is free to set its own law in this area , the government is reforming alcohol duties to best suit national priorities ,’ says the document , overhauling an ‘ outdated ’ system . Separate tax categories , such as for beer and wine , will move to a standardised set of bands , with different rates for products between 1.2-3.4 per cent ABV , 3.5-8.4 per cent , 8.5-22 per cent and those above 22 per cent . Above 8.5 per cent , products across all categories will pay the same rate of duty if they have the same proportion of alcohol content . ‘ Alcohol will be taxed in a progressive manner , ensuring higher strength products incur proportionately more duty , addressing the problem of harmful high-strength products being sold too cheaply ,’ the document says . New relief that cuts duty rates on
draught beer and cider by 5 per cent will also be introduced , a move that ‘ recognises the importance of pubs and supports responsible drinking ’. ‘ Draught Relief ’ represents the biggest beer duty cut for 50 years and the biggest cut to cider duty since 1923 , the government states . The duty rates on beer , cider , wine and spirits will also be frozen for another year , ‘ providing further support to the hospitality industry and its suppliers as they recover from the pandemic ’.
The new system would be ‘ simpler , fairer , and healthier ’, he said , designed ‘ around a commonsense principle – the stronger the drink , the higher the rate . “ White ciders ” will see a small increase in their rates because they are currently undertaxed given their strength . That ’ s the right thing to do , and it will help end the era of cheap , high-strength drinks which can harm public health and enable problem drinking .’ The reforms would come into effect in February 2023 , he said , although the planned increase in duty on spirits , wine , cider and beer due to come into force in October has been cancelled with immediate effect – ‘ a tax cut worth £ 3bn ’. The reforms ‘ back pubs and public health ’, he said , and ‘ are only possible because we ’ ve left the EU ’.
The decision to cancel this year ’ s planned increase in duty was ‘ deeply regrettable ’, said Alcohol Change UK ’ s director of research and policy , Lucy Holmes . The chancellor had ‘ missed yet another important opportunity to significantly reduce the harm caused by alcohol and to cover the costs of that harm . Instead , he has given a tax break to massive alcohol producers who have continued to see huge profits throughout the pandemic .’ However , the organisation ‘ strongly ’ welcomed the new simplified system of taxing drinks according to strength , she said . ‘ We have been calling for an overhaul of the system to make it fairer , more consistent and geared towards promoting public health . While this change won ’ t come into force until 2023 , it represents a welcome improvement . We will carefully scrutinise the detail of the other proposed changes but if the strongest , cheapest drinks rise in price , this will go a long way to reducing alcohol harm
' Alcohol will be taxed in a progressive manner , ensuring higher strength products incur proportionately more duty .'
and is to be welcomed .’ Budget documents at www . gov . uk available at https :// www . gov . uk / government / consultations / the-new-alcohol-dutysystem-consultation until 30.1.22
www . gov . uk

Cost of gambling harms ‘ at least ’ £ 1.27bn a year

Three quarters of people drinking more than 50 units a week participated in gambling , compared to 35 per cent of nondrinkers .
THE HARMS ASSOCIATED WITH GAMBLING cost at least £ 1.27bn in England alone in 2019-20 , according to PHE ’ s Gambling harms : evidence review . The UK is one of the world ’ s biggest gambling markets , generating profits of more than £ 14bn last year . PHE estimates that around 0.5 per cent of the population reach the threshold to be considered ‘ problem gamblers ’, with almost 4 per cent classified as ‘ at-risk ’.
As with drug and alcohol-related harm , the people most vulnerable
to gambling related harms are concentrated in areas of higher deprivation , such as the North of England , with a ‘ clear link ’ between problem gambling and higher levels of alcohol consumption . Three quarters of people drinking more than 50 units a week participated in gambling , compared to 35 per cent of non-drinkers .
Men were more than four times more likely to be gambling at ‘ levels of elevated risk of harm ’, while people with mental health issues were twice as likely . People
with gambling problems were also ‘ at least ’ twice as likely to die as a result of suicide than the general population , with one study putting the risk at almost 20 times higher . Gambling should be considered a public health issue , the review states , as it is ‘ associated with harms to individuals , their families , close associates and wider society ’, and calls for an approach that focuses on ‘ prevention , early intervention and treatment ’. Document at www . gov . uk See feature , page 12