Hospitality industry leaders have rounded on the chancellor after he announced inflation busting price hikes for alcohol in today's Budget.
Tax on alcohol is set to rise substantially from midnight on Sunday with a 6% above inflation hike promised. Duty on beer will rise 3% while taxes on wine will increase by 14 pence per bottle. Spirits will rise by 55 pence per bottle and the chancellor has put alcohol taxes on a price escalator of 2% above inflation for the next four years.
Licensed trade body the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) criticised the decision to increase alcohol duty at a time when local pubs are closing in record numbers.
"The Budget proves that the chancellor doesn't give a damn for Britain's local pubs," said ALMR chief executive Nick Bish, who accused the Government of failing to distinguish between the responsible operators and consumers and the irresponsible minority.
The British Beer & Pub Association claimed the above inflation price hikes would open the floodgates to booze cruises and bootleggers.
BBPA chief executive Rob Hayward said: "That the Government should commit itself and future governments to an above inflation rate increase for alcohol for the next four years is hitting all drinkers for the sins of a minority."
Consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), agreed, describing the increase as a "charter for smugglers" and cheap supermarket booze.
Mike Benner, chief executive of Camra, said: "The chancellor has failed to recognise that well run community pubs are the solution to Britain's binge drinking problems.
"This budget will do nothing to stop binge drinking, but it will lead to pub closures on a huge scale, widen the gap between supermarket and pub prices and encourage smuggling and cross border shopping."
By Chris Druce
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