Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Axe The Beer Tax

I have received (as have many, probably) an invitation to “Axe the Beer Tax”. To heavily paraphrase the line from Jerry Maguire, you had me with Axe and Tax. And Beer.

It’s no surprise that the British Beer and Pub Association are leading this campaign to reduce the tax on beer, particularly in these tough economic times. They make the very valid point that pubs are important centres of many communities. This is a point I myself have made a number of times – we justifiably decry the loss of post offices as damaging the foundation of many communities, yet the pub can serve an equally important and similar role.

Pubs are closing at an alarming rate. Of course, the nanny statists in the government would probably view that as an achievement, but ordinary people – -whether regulars or teetotallers, will recognise the damage that a pub closure represents to the local economy – and collectively to the economy as a whole.

I have a client (nameless, of course) running a classic Inner London hostelry who used to take close to £4,000 per week. Then the smoking ban came in and that figure plummeted to £2,500 per week (being Inner London, the scope for any outdoor space was almost non-existent).

Then the recession bit last year. Yes, last year: that’s when it hit the construction industry which employed many of his clientele. Turnover dropped to £1,900 per week … and he needs £3,500 to make the whole thing worthwhile. If his landlord is understanding he may struggle on for a while until things will recover.

So, shall I sign up to the Axe the Beer Tax campaign? After some hesitation, yes. The hesitation comes from reading their campaigning points:

1.    To stop plans to increase beer tax by up to a third
2.    To enforce existing laws – not create new ones – to deal firmly with irresponsible drinkers and premises
3.    To end the irresponsible promotion of alcohol in supermarkets, pubs and elsewhere
4.    To trust responsible adults to make informed choices about what they drink, not punish them for the actions of an irresponsible minority
5.    To support the British pub as a vital part of social life in local communities.
I don’t know about you, but number 3 stuck out like a sore thumb to me. If we are to “trust responsible adults to make informed choices about what they drink” then who are we to demand that licensed premises end “the irresponsible promotion of alcohol”. Surely it’s not the promotion that’s irresponsible, it’s the minority of morons who take it as a cue to get tanked up and cause trouble?

That being said, 4 out of 5 isn’t bad, so I will sign up and the campaign is duly blogrolled.


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