Sunday, 17 June 2012

I want to get off

The petition against the beer duty escalator is currently enjoying major promotion, and so far has gained over 57,000 signatures. But, realistically, what are the chances of the escalator being stopped before the 2015 General Election? The strong view of the respondents to the poll was “zero”, which commanded 61% of all votes cast. On the other hand, the four who voted “a certainty” demonstrate a remarkable degree of optimism.

I would say “very unlikely” rather than “zero”, as there must be a slim chance that before the election the government will decide to take the foot off the gas to win a few votes. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

And there is a skeleton at the feast – if minimum pricing comes in, there must surely be a strong temptation for the government to bring duties closer to the level of the minimum price, to ensure the benefit flows to the Exchequer rather than private businesses. Those championing minimum pricing need to be very careful what they wish for.


  1. I remember during the protests about the petrol duty escalator a Conservative spokesperson saying that the whole point of an escalator was that it wasn't permanent: you get off when you reach the top. Funny how that doesn't apply now they're in government.

  2. And the fuel duty ratchet is back, with duty set to rise by 3p/litre (4p once you add on VAT) on 1 August. At a time when fuel prices have fallen back a bit (although still historically high) that may pass without too much protest.

  3. Not merely a 'strong temptation', the Scottish Assembly have already said they will apply a windfall tax on the drinks industry, or raise duty to take the extra income from minimum pricing. The same will happen if it is brought in in England.

  4. The thing about fuel duty is that most people give a toss about it, unlike beer tax. In order to be a political issue it needs to go beyond beer geeks and publicans and be something the public care about.

  5. I suspect you're right, Cooking Lager, but that shouldn't stop us beer drinkers trying. Beer geeks mostly enjoy beer on-line, not in pubs.

  6. Never said you should stop trying, Nev. If you can put it in the mainstream, like pasty taxes, Osborne might run scared and do something.

    But efforts to get beer geeks to sign on line petitions and expecting results are pissing in the wind.

  7. I'd love it if it got stopped, just so I can point at the people who think it's closing pubs and say "right, now will you accept it's the smoking ban?"

  8. Come on, Mudgie, the four who said "a certainty" are just trying to wind you up. They probably think the smoking ban is a good idea.


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