Grim news that total beer sales in the UK, including both on and off–trade, were 8.3% down in the last quarter of 2008 compared with the same quarter of 2007. The 16% rise in beer duty can’t have helped, of course. In a nauseating appeal to emotion, the government said that the the higher duty was used to help fight child poverty. Now, I’m not aware that we have hypothecated taxes in this country, and this revenue funds all forms of expenditure equally, from nuclear weapons to welfare scroungers. But, even if this were true, it’s hardly a very effective policy as the point of no return has now been passed where duty increases actually reduce the total revenue raised.