23 March 2011

Despite the announcement by the Chancellor of �no change� to alcohol duty in today�s Budget, the industry actually faces a 7.2% increase in duty due to the alcohol escalator already in place. Commenting on the announcement, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Pubs of Ulster said:

�Today�s announcement by Chancellor George Osborne stating that there will be no further increases in alcohol duty was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. What the Chancellor failed to mention was that the alcohol duty escalator as put forward by the previous Labour government, will remain. �This means that from the 28th March 2011 alcohol tax will increase by 2 per cent above the rate of inflation, resulting in an increase of almost 7.5 per cent. A situation further compounded by impending price hikes from leading suppliers which, when added to the increase in duty, could see the price of a pint increase by 10 to 15 pence overall. �Publicans are now struggling to protect their customers from these rising costs but with the profit from a �3 pint of beer now only 8 pence, down from 23 pence following last year�s Budget, it is becoming less likely that this can be sustained. This has the potential to drive more people to drink at home, fuelling the problem of the uncontrolled consumption of alcohol and the alcohol related health problems this brings. It is clear that urgent action needs to be taken by both the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Assembly to alleviate the pressure on the trade and to protect the jobs and livelihoods of the thousands of people employed within the industry.�