Friday, 23 March 2012

40 pence per soundbite


  it seems like harvesting the above tax could raise the treasury some much needed money if it had thought to impose this duty from 11.00AM this morning. Mind you, I am not very good at harvesting soundbites, much like the HMRC are pretty rubbish at collecting taxes, most especially from the twats at the top who have most to gain from them not doing so.

I was still digesting the details of the ghost 5% tax rise that many fell for, of course the beer duty escalator was already running prior to budget day allowing Osborne the chance to pretend nothing was happening. Then, having got nowhere with understanding how much this would add to the price of a pint over the bar (any figure rarely reflects the cost at the pumps, for no doubt innumerable reasons), I heard that the Government had announced in Parliament sleepy time that they were going to be proposing, as part of its alcohol strategy, a 40 pence minimum price per unit on alcohol.

Now, I get that you already know the above, but remembering that I can't be arsed finding quotes, this is what struck me :

1. Recently, I've noted stories about the drinking habits of the middle class and the go-getters in the employment market, letting go of all their day's stress by binging after work. As Professor Sir Ian Gilmore points out reassuringly from his bubble, this (minmum unit price) won't affect the cost of beer in a pub, or the cost of a bottle of wine in a restaurant. (UNQ) Does this mean the above sector isn't that much of a problem? If so, where is the problem drinking sector then? If its not the above, it must be the poorest in society? If, even, there is a specific problem sector? (clearly its too easy to generalise when patching together a strategy.....)

2. Cameron said it was ridiculous that you could get a can of lager for 25p and a large bottle of super strength cider for £2.00. (UNQ)

And that is quite shocking. I mean, what goes in to drinks like that to be that cheap? (just skip past "Indian cola" and cheap Chinese soy sauce). The thing that's worrying here is that at no stage has he considered why someone would be buying such products, especially if they were off out later?

Perhaps, the fact that in the pub across from this made up supermarket its £3.50 a pint for cider (if you're lucky), over £3.00 for a pint of lager. No-one wants the pubs in town centres and elsewhere to be filled up with more out of control drinkers,  (I can see this is a tightrope!)  but unsupervised drinking can only be achived by off sales purchases. In some cases, you'd have to argue that City Centres would be Ghost towns without the opportunity to preload - surely they can't be after the affluent City Centre money pots as well?

3. The home Secretary said :
that just under the cheapest fifth of all alcohol sold would be affected by introducing a 40p minimum.

"Too many people think it's a great night out to get really drunk and have a fight in our streets," she told BBC Breakfast.

"What we need to do is to set a price that is actually going to ensure that we don't damage responsible drinkers. People who like a drink or two, who like going down their local pub, have nothing to fear from this policy."


Coming on the back of HSBD, the smoking ban, a failure to act on pub companies, and two days after the year on year tax rises bequeathed by the tax escalator, one wonders where these pubs are?

They still exist, but there are many less local pubs than when we had less disposable income. So something is making our pubs die, which is unconnected to the unit price of alcohol. Ironically, when the above factors serve to erode away the core traditional trade in such establishments, many can only remain open as late night venues with attractive one price entry promotions and cheap shots. (its childish, I know, but I mis-typed this as cheap shits. And then chuckled to myself. I am 5.)

Also, re the above statement, who is it that the experts think is directly responsible for a person's assumption or belief that its alright to go out and get drunk and have a fight in the streets? Erm, individuals? Is it that setting the limit at 39p wouldn't change the decision structure of people unable to control their urge to fight but 40p would?

I have seen many reformed alcoholics today interviewed about the minimum price declaring that it would have made no difference at all to them in their previous situation. So if the Government think that almost all of us abuse alcohol, that would maybe still apply - all of us would still strive to find booze no matter what the price ( I realise this is a lightly absurd notion but you have to apply these ideas rigidly otherwise they lose credibility....)

Irrespective of price, if I go out and have quite a lot to drink I may become argumentative. In the sort of pubs I frequent that stimulates debate. I don't hit people. I don't fight or start fights. I might be pedantic about pronunciation of certain words, and I concede, publicly, that this is quite annoying. I may also shout at train or bus timetables, but fighting is for idiots. So can I be exempt from  minimum pricing? Surely nothing I do is a taxable crime as defined in the rambling remit of this rashly rushed proposal?

Finally, results seem to show that disposable income is up and beer is cheaper now as a percentage of average income compared to 1980. Well that's great. But I'd be more interested to be shown evidence of how the price of a pint in a pub has risen against the cost in a supermarket and how those two, I suspect radically different figures measure up against a percentage of household income. If, and I dearly hope this stat is correct, we are paying 40% of all the beer duty in Europe but consuming only 13% of all the beer drunk in Europe, then that would show that successive Governments have allowed tax over the bar to escalate, and tax for alcohol at the checkout stay low or maybe become lower.Which is their fault! Ha Ha!

In which case, we're back to why not make social supervised drinking affordable? Wibble?

The above quotes were sort of in some cases taken from the BBC News website here . I had to half remember Professor Sir Ian Gilmore's quote from 3 different interviews, hence its an unquote.

If this post has made you depressed, why not compare the different news channels envisaged cost increases on a variety of "popular alcoholic products"?

Or just pour yourself a bottle of slightly chilled Bottle conditioned IPA and stay indoors where its safe.

Wee Beefy

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