Budget missed opportunity to address alcohol and obesity

Posted on: 22nd November 2017

Responding to the Budget today, Judi Rhys, the British Liver Trust’s Chief Executive said

“Liver disease is the only major cause of death that is rising at an alarming rate and we are disappointed that today’s budget did not hold any measures to address alcohol consumption or obesity – two of the major causes for this increase.  Substantial strong evidence exists for a range of different strategies to minimise the damage caused by both sugar and alcohol, including those that improve education and those that target price and marketing.

Simple legislation to ensure prominent and understandable labelling on food and alcohol products, suitable highly visible health warnings and appropriate taxation or price regulation would have gone a long way to tackling both of these problems.”

The British Liver Trust also endorsed the Alcohol Health Alliance’s position. Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alliance, said:

‘Today’s budget represents a huge missed opportunity for the Government to tackle alcohol harm. The freezes on alcohol duty the Chancellor has announced represent a real terms cut in duty, and a £1.2 billion tax giveaway to an alcohol industry which has already benefitted from successive duty cuts in previous budgets.

The planned increase in duty on some high-strength ciders appears like a small step in the right direction. However, in reality it will have minimal impact. A three-litre bottle of white cider at the newly proposed 6.8% ABV strength will contain more than 20 units of alcohol yet could still be sold for £3.50. This will do very little to protect dependent drinkers and children that consume these damaging products.

Furthermore, this measure will not come into effect until 2019 and in the meantime the price of high strength cider will fall because of today’s duty freeze. This strengthens the case for minimum unit pricing of alcohol. With minimum pricing now judged to be legal by the Supreme Court and Scotland and Wales moving to implement the measure, it is important that England does not get left behind in terms of reducing alcohol-related harm.’