Tuesday 20 February 2024

Drink for Britain!

The Daily Telegraph reports that an increasingly abstemious younger generation are blowing a large hole in the government’s revenue forecasts:
Clean-living youngsters threaten to blow a multibillion-pound hole in public finances as alcohol and tobacco tax income declines, the head of the spending watchdog has warned.

Richard Hughes, head of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), has questioned whether assumptions about future tax income from what are often dubbed “sin taxes” are realistic. He told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee: “There are some bits of the tax system which are themselves not sustainable. In a few decades’ time we won’t collect any fuel duty because every car will be electric, and they don’t pay any fuel duty. Nowadays, you have to ask whether young people are drinking and smoking enough for us to be collecting alcohol and tobacco duties at the current rate that we are.”

Around one-third of 18 to 24-year-olds do not drink alcohol, according to surveys from YouGov, up from one in five in 2019. Some experts believe Generation Z are less interested in alcohol because they fear the fallout on social media if they embarrass themselves while drunk.

The number of smokers in Britain has also been steadily declining for years and Rishi Sunak has announced plans to ban smoking for the next generation.

Plans to balance the books are built in part on the assumption of higher incomes from sin taxes, particularly from drinking. Alcohol duty is set to bring in £13bn this year, according to the OBR’s forecasts, rising to more than £17bn in 2028-29, an increase of almost one-third in just five years. A failure to collect this level of tax could be significant for a government whose finances are already finely balanced.

It’s all very well making worthy attempts to cut down people’s consumption, but the risk is that you end up shooting yourself in the foot in terms of the public finances. Although somehow I can’t see our po-faced public health lobby being happy to follow the Japanese example and officially encourage young people to drink more to swell the Treasury coffers.


  1. Wait until they all start living so much longer because of it, well past any retirement age that would be politically possible. That will make the loss of sin taxes look like a rounding error.

    1. But...but we are told smokers and drinkers cost the NHS.

    2. Some years ago, the Times printed an article that explained how, looking at whole-life costs, people with healthy lifestyles actually cost the NHS more because of the care they needed in extreme old age. I wrote a blog about it at the time, but unfortunately it has now vanished behind their paywall.

  2. https://baileysbeerblog.blogspot.com/20 February 2024 at 14:00

    What on earth is the matter with young people, today?

  3. Professor Pie-Tin20 February 2024 at 15:59

    I have to say I'm a tad tumescent about tonight's 5 'o' Clock Club.
    There's Rev James on the taps and in my pocket three plastic beer sparklers that arrived by Jeff this morning.
    Whilst continuing my current Henry Weston cider gig I've been trying to persuade the non-ale drinking staff behind the bar of my local - which is basically everyone including the landlord and his wife - of the merits of a sparkler. None of them has ever poured a pint with one on.
    Tuesday is normally quiet with a very pretty but intellectually-challenged young lady usually serving.
    I'm sure I can persuade her to try one out.
    I'll update you with how it went later.

    1. A sparkler won't do anything to liven up a beer that's already well past its best.

    2. PPT,
      One of the attractions of the Bristol area for me, and I presume the locals, is the absence of sparklers ( except on bonfire night )
      One of the worst things about Yorkshire for me is tight sparklers that thrash the life out of a decent pint.

    3. Sparklers are an abomination. Someone once tried to serve me Harvey's Best with a sparkler on. They were soon advised of their mistake !

    4. Professor Pie-Tin21 February 2024 at 17:00

      Update: Bit of a disaster really. After her third try at pouring a sparkled pint the space cadet pronounced it too much like hard work.
      The Rev James was in decent form though even with her lame attempts.
      Not sure sparklers will catch on here in the South West though ...

  4. The first pub I drank in as a teenager in the late eighties was a large Whitbread house with a small carvery in a side room. The pub was full of young people every weekend drinking cheap beer. It then shut for a refurbishment and when it reopened the side room had become a bar, the main room a restaurant, the drinks were more expensive and a dress code had been introduced. Pubs turned away from young drinkers to attract an older dining clientele. No wonder they no longer feel welcome there, even if they can afford the prices.

    1. Although in the same era many big brewery outlets were being converted to "fun pubs", which were actively offputting to the older generation. It was more a conscious segregation of the pubgoing population.

  5. Drink for Britain: where do I sign up.

  6. Please excuse the off-topicness, but Members might like to read this recent piece in The Kent Messenger!


    Who , in Kent and Sussex, can forget The Elephant on Fremlins pub signs!


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