Drinks in the UK are set to become more expensive thanks to a new government system that will tax alcoholic drinks based on their strength.
The new system has been created with the intention of encouraging people to drink less but has received fierce criticism from hospitality groups who fear it will both fuel inflation and damage an already fragile industry.
The policy means that going forward wine in the UK will become more expensive as well as spirit mixers and cocktails, whilst champagne, sparkling wine and some low alcohol beer will become cheaper as a result.
Its introduction, however, comes at a time when the UK is experiencing record inflation in food and drink, with prices having hit a 45-year high of 19.2% in March 2023.
Current inflation on alcohol and tobacco products, meanwhile, was at 9.2 percent in June.
However, despite criticism, the government has pressed ahead with the tax measure – with the Prime Minister hailing Brexit for making it all possible as he made a photocall at a Richmond brewery on Tuesday.
Rishi Sunak called the overhaul “the most radical simplification of alcohol duties for over 140 years” and was insistent that hard-up businesses and consumers will benefit from the change.
The Prime Minister decided to break the news with a pint-pulling photo opportunity in a Richmond pub.
However, whilst Mr Sunak didn’t appear to have clocked the irony of the image it was soon pointed out to him by a heckler inside.
As he posed at Wensleydale brewery with a pint of Black Dub stout, an onlooker called out: “Prime minister, oh the irony that you’re raising alcohol duty on the day that you’re pulling a pint.”
The announcement about price hikes on Tuesday coincided with the end of the freeze on alcohol duty, first announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in March. As a result, alcohol prices are now set to increase with inflation at 10.1%.
The new tax measures mean that a bottle of wine will increase by 44p, but combined with VAT will mean consumers are paying an extra 53p per bottle.
The tax on gin and vodka bottles, meanwhile, will go up by around 90p, whilst duty on 18% cream sherry will go up by more than £1 and bottles of port are set to rise by more than £1.50.
At first glance, it appears there is some good news for beer drinkers who will see the duty cut by 11p a pint.
However, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), because brewers will be required to pay 10.1% more tax on bottles and cans from 1 August their prices could rise to reflect this increase – as that new tax will make up around 30% of the cost of a 500ml bottle.
The BBPA also said that the tax increase on packaged beer will add an extra £225 million of costs per year across the industry.
For Scotch Whisky, the cost is set to rise even more with Scotch Whisky Association director of strategy Graeme Littlejohn revealing the tax burden on an average bottle will rise to 75%.
He also said the move will leave distillers at a competitive disadvantage, stressing that “pubs and other on-trade businesses are about far more than beer and cider.”
Calling the 10.1% duty increase a ‘hammer blow for distillers and consumers’, he explained: “At a time when inflation has only just started to creep downwards, this tax increase will continue to fuel inflation and make it more difficult for the Scotch Whisky industry to invest in growth and job creation in Scotland and across the UK supply chain.
“Rather than choosing to back an industry which the UK government promised to support through the tax system, the government has chosen to impose the largest duty increase in almost half a century, increasing the cost of every bottle of Scotch Whisky sold in the UK by almost a pound and taking the tax burden on the average priced bottle to 75%.
“In a further blow, distillers will now face a further competitive disadvantage in pubs, restaurants and bars by being unfairly excluded from tax breaks available to beer and cider.
“Pubs and other on-trade businesses are about far more than beer and cider.”
The prime minister said: “I want to support the drinks and hospitality industries that are helping to grow the economy, and the consumers who enjoy the end result.
“Not only will today’s changes mean that that the price of your pint in the pub is protected, but it will also benefit thousands of businesses across the country.
“We have taken advantage of Brexit to simplify the duty system, to reduce the price of a pint, and to back British pubs.”
Featured image – The Manc Eats
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”