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Newcastle could become the First English City to introduce alcohol tax

Contributed by Sussex SEO
May 9, 2018

Newcastle plans to introduce a minimum alcohol tax of 50p per unit of alcohol in a bid to reduce alcohol-related problems. This means that a 3L bottle of cider would increase from £3 to £11, making Newcastle the first city to introduce a minimum pricing structure.

Last year, the UK Chancellor came under pressure from lobby groups to hike cheap alcohol with high strength. A survey by Alcohol Health Alliance UK found that 66% of taxpayers support the hike. City leaders also plan to reduce the wave of free alcohol promotions that MTV hit series Geordie Shore was known for.

Newcastle is famous for its' vibrant nightlife and wild stag and hen parties. It comes in the wake of Scotland's plans to introduce minimum pricing effective from May. Lobby groups in Australia are also asking the government to introduce alcohol tax reforms in the next budget. A director of a popular Stag Do company says the move won't reduce drinking but rather make people spend more on alcohol.

The problem of alcohol abuse in the UK

In 2011, a council leader raised awareness on the level of drinking problem experienced in Newcastle. Nick Forbes explained that the problem was mostly related to younger crowds. While the night time economy brings in jobs and investment, it has cost the NHS and police over £160 million in ambulance service, accidents and hospital admission.

Over half the incidences of domestic violence in Newcastle, occur whilst the abuser has consumed copious amounts of alcohol. Over 4,000 children aged 10 years and below are affected by alcoholic parents. The NHS has warned that over a million Brits could die in the next five years if minimum pricing is not introduced.

The move by Scotland's Supreme Court was backed by ministers as a historic judgment. First Minister, Nicole Sturgeon was delighted by the news but critics state that poor families who simply want to have a good time suffer from the ban.

The Statistics

Cheap booze kills hundreds of thousands of people and destroys lives. It is abundant, easily accessible and cheap. In July 2017, UK doctors warned that alcohol abuse could kill up to 63,000 people. They urged the government to introduce National minimum unit pricing to solve the problem.

The doctors claim that the number of liver disease deaths resulting from long-term alcohol abuse is a public health crisis that should be addressed. Research from academic experts estimates that between 2017-2022, the NHS will spend £16.74bn treating alcohol abuse problem. Another study by Alcohol Research Group estimates 32,475 deaths (35 deaths a day) from liver cancer and 22,519 from liver disease.

In the UK, liver disease claims 12,000 lives a year, one of the biggest killers. The number of associated deaths has increased 400% since 1970. Brits who suffer liver disease have some of the worst outcomes in Western Europe. Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, Katherine Brown accused the UK government of having a laidback attitude towards alcohol abuse. The report shows the enormous burden alcohol exerts on taxpayers' money.

Will an alcohol tax really reduce binge drinking and alcohol abuse?

Britain has always had a love-hate relationship with alcohol. While statistics show that the number of drink driving and alcohol consumption have reduced among young people, alcohol remains a thorn in the flesh of the UK government. According to The Independent, hospital admissions are at an all-time high, as well as mental health problems and heart disease. UK hospitals have witnessed a 13% increased admission and 16% fall in money spent on alcohol services throughout the UK.

According to Gary Latham, Managing Director of Bridging Loans Broker, if we look beyond the economic cost to the human lives lost to abuse, increasing the tax on alcohol might make binge drinking less attractive to younger crowds. He further argues that more young people die from alcohol abuse than tobacco. The harm from alcohol abuse includes harm to the drinker, harm to others in the line of fire such as road users and immediate family members and developing addiction at a young age.

The BBC prescribes the following steps alongside minimum pricing for alcohol

  • If people spent more time in pubs, landlords will tell them when they've had enough and stop serving them.
  • Drinks bought in shops should be more expensive
  • Raise the legal age of consuming alcoholic drinks
  • Discourage rounds because it makes people drink more
  • Ban alcohol advertising and marketing
  • Parents should be advised not to drink in front of their kids


Some experts argue that minimum pricing won't be sufficient to get the job done. The negative impact of alcohol abuse is felt by family members, workplaces and the society at large. Individuals who abuse alcohol require professional treatment to help them understand their addiction. The government also needs to do more to shift attitude towards binge drinking because it's still too high.


Tags: tax | Australia | Tax | Scotland | tax reform | public health | services | Western Europe | Europe | budget | investment



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