In an effort to reduce alcohol-related problems, Newcastle will introduce a 50p ‘booze tax’, making it the first English city to do so. It will also be the first to bring in a minimum pricing unit structure if the plan pushes through.
What does the booze tax imply?
All pubs, clubs, and shops will charge per unit of alcohol with a minimum amount of 50p. This will increase the cost of a 3-litre bottle of cider to £11 from the previous £3.60 because the bottle has 22.5 units, for example.
According to a Newcastle city council report, “Where premises are found to be selling alcohol below this price and there are problems, the committee may decide to impose a condition in relation to pricing of alcohol.”
Benefits of the Booze Tax
- Reduce problems created and induced by alcohol. The move comes after complaints from police and the NHS showed that the city’s binge-drinking culture is stretching resources to the limit.
- Increase budget and funding. Tax revenue is sure to increase with the increased price of alcohol, according to a report from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. The revenue could be spent on areas that need more funding such as the health system.
While Newcastle is the first in England to introduce a minimum price for alcohol sales, Scotland announced last year that it will become the first country in the world to do so. They share a similar sentiment with Newcastle, with more focus on cheap, super-strong alcohol and its harmful effects.
Director of alcohol support charity Balance, Colin Shevils, told The Sun, “We applaud our colleagues in Newcastle.”
The scheme already took effect on May 2018 and increased the price of the cheapest bottle of red wine to £4.69 and the cost of a 4-pack can of 4% lager at 500 ml each to £4.
Shevils, however, believe that the most effective way to deal with alcohol-related problems is for the government to follow Scotland’s example and “introduce MUP across the whole country.”
What is the impact of the booze tax on businesses?
As if the UK tax rules aren’t complicated enough, the new law will add more figures to the numbers that businesses have to calculate when tax time comes. This is on top of the PAYE system they have to deal with when paying their employees and the UK tax return.
But the real impact will be felt on the booming nightlife scene on Newcastle, particularly the Bigg Market a place known the world over as the best spot for stag and hen weekends.
Hangover Weekends, a company specialising in organising stag and hen parties in the city laments how insulting the scheme is.
“It’s insulting people’s intelligence to suggest that the amount somebody drinks has to be controlled by hitting their pocket,” said director Andy Simpson.
A recent study showed that only 5% of drinkers that consume high-strength, low price drinks make up a whole third of all of UK’s alcohol consumption. It appears that the new law designed for only a small number of drinkers will affect an entire industry.