Blog: Chris MercerUK Budget 2011 - You know the script, but do consumers?

Chris Mercer | 23 March 2011

It's that time again; the one day of the year when the drinks industry gets to stop begging the Chancellor to do things and properly kick off.

Alcoholic drinks duty is to rise by 2% above inflation, which means 7.5% in real terms due to high inflation, the UK Government said in its Budget speech today (23 March).

Nobody really expected anything else, not even the British Beer & Pub Association, which could be found propping up the bar in the last-chance saloon yesterday evening, while repeatedly texting the Chancellor.

Subsequently jilted, the beer sector was first to vent its spleen today. So far, it has described the duty rise as a "kick in the teeth", a "hammer blow" and, simply, "baffling". BrewDog thinks that a beer duty rise is good, but only because everyone else thinks that it's bad.

The wine, spirits and cider sectors have followed suit, accusing the Chancellor of taking the axe to drinks industry jobs at a time of record unemployment in the UK.

The Government clearly has no plans to stop beating the industry with this blunt stick.

But, how many consumers are aware of what is going on? For example, nobody I have spoken to in the last fortnight was aware that half the price of a GBP5 bottle of wine is tax: that they would actually get better value for money if they spent a bit more.

Drinks producers are constantly muttering about consumer education. Maybe it's time for some publicity on duty.









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