From Alcohol Change UK <[email protected]>
Subject Will an alcohol duty freeze help pubs?
Date April 1, 2021 7:59 AM
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Read our response to Budget 2021, Sober Spring, an update on the APPG, and more!

** Welcome to the March newsletter from Alcohol Change UK
The month kicked off with the Budget announcement on 3 March, in which the Chancellor announced the decision to freeze alcohol duty for the second year in a row – a decision which will have serious implications for public finances and public health, and is unlikely to deliver the intended benefits for the hospitality industry. Find out more in this month’s newsletter, plus read about the latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, and the launch of Sober Spring.

** Budget announcement: our response

In the Budget announced on 3 March 2021, the Chancellor chose to freeze duty on all alcohol. This marks the eighth year out of the last nine that alcohol duties have failed to keep up with inflation, and misses a key opportunity to address a worsening crisis.

Read our statement below. You can also read this fascinating blog ([link removed]) by Colin Angus of the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group on why the freeze won’t, in reality, help the hospitality sector. Lucy Holmes, Director of Research and Policy Development, said:

“The government has missed a key opportunity to support the UK’s recovery from the pandemic by reducing both a significant burden on public services, and the unacceptable, avoidable harm caused by alcohol.

"The government claims this real-terms cut in alcohol duty is aimed at helping the hospitality industry, but it’s the big supermarkets and huge multinational alcohol producers who stand to benefit.

"Alcohol harm is estimated to cost between £27 billion and £52 billion each year - more than twice the amount raised in duty. The cost of this year's freeze will be £315 million, meaning the cost of duty freezes since 2013 has now topped £6.5bn.

"But this is about much more than money. Last month the Office of National Statistics reported that in the first nine months of 2020, deaths as a result of alcohol were the highest since data collection began in 2001. And the harm caused by alcohol goes beyond this totally avoidable loss of life – the harm ripples out, affecting children, families and communities.”

Read our full statement ([link removed])

** Sober Spring is here!
Sober Spring started on 20 March! We’re so excited to be running this campaign again, alongside best-selling author Catherine Gray.

Catherine says, “It’s often after a period of drinking more (like, for instance, during a terrifying apocalyptic-vibed pandemic) that we choose to quit. And there’s absolutely no shame in that. That’s when we choose to quit most things, right? After a period of overuse, whatever that might look like.”

If you’d like to take part but haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late! Simply download the Try Dry app, tick the box to receive emails, set Sober Spring as your goal and you’re good to go.

Why not take part as a fundraising challenge, to do good for yourself as well as those affected by serious alcohol harm? Set up your JustGiving page to get started. ([link removed])

Find out more and sign up for Sober Spring ([link removed])

** All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm update
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Alcohol Harm held its second meeting of the year in March, on the theme of alcohol and domestic abuse.

Vice Chair of the group Jennifer Keen, from the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), and Baroness Finlay of Llandaff gave an update on the progress of the Domestic Abuse Bill and her amendment which called for better access to alcohol treatment for those affected by domestic abuse. While the amendment was withdrawn, the Minister confirmed that the statutory guidance will require local authorities to provide specific alcohol services for those affected by domestic abuse. The group also heard from Changing Lives on the challenges faced by service providers, and Agenda on the wider picture of domestic abuse.

The APPG also co-hosted an event this month with the Transport Safety APPG on drink and drug driving. At the meeting, we learned about the key issues in tackling drink driving such as the fact that levels of enforcement have fallen since 2010 and that 1 in 5 drink drivers go on to reoffend. As well as a reduction in the drink driving limit, we need more enforcement and diversion to alcohol and mental health treatment services.

Read more about the APPG ([link removed])

** Josh's 1500-mile cycle ride

In April, our amazing fundraiser Josh will be cycling 1500 miles in fourteen days to help those affected by serious alcohol harm. Josh is currently in the early stages of recovery himself, after struggling with his drinking from a young age.

Read Josh's story ([link removed])

** Alcohol news

** Almost a quarter of hospital patients with liver disease die within sixty days

A new report finds that urgent action is required to tackle the “unacceptable high mortality” of patients who are admitted to hospital with liver disease. It reports that almost a quarter of patients admitted to hospital with liver disease die within 60 days. The report also highlights that people with advanced liver disease admitted to hospital as an emergency are seven to eight times more likely to die than those admitted with a stroke or heart attack.

Read a summary of the report ([link removed](20)32396-5/fulltext)

** Minimum pricing “led to 3.5% drop in alcohol sales”
Minimum unit pricing in Scotland has contributed to a 3.5% fall in off-trade alcohol sales, according to updated analysis. The new figures from Public Health Scotland indicate that alcohol consumption was at 9.9 litres of pure alcohol per adult – equivalent to 19.1 units per week and the lowest level in Scotland since 1994.

Read a summary ([link removed])

** Study reveals impact of lockdown on violence in Welsh capital

The first Covid lockdown saw a “rapid and sustained” fall in violence outside the home in the Welsh capital city, a new study led by Cardiff University has shown. Researchers studied data from Cardiff’s sole emergency department and found there were almost 60% fewer attendances per week for violent injury outside the home in the first lockdown. Lead author Professor Jonathan Shepherd said the fall is likely to reflect closure of city centre pubs and clubs in and around which most violence takes place.

Read more ([link removed])

** Instagram “not doing enough” to hide alcohol adverts
People recovering from alcohol addiction have raised concerns that Instagram may not be doing enough to help users avoid being targeted by advertising, according to media reports. Instagram users say they have applied settings options on the popular social media app to attempt to hide adverts about drinking – but they still pop up.

Read more ([link removed])

** Calls for tougher rules for alcohol delivery services

There have been calls in Ireland to introduce laws to “clamp down” on alcohol delivery services. On-demand alcohol deliveries have thought to have increased dramatically during the pandemic, with concerns around adequate age verification and protecting people who are already drunk.

Read more ([link removed])

** Latest blogs

** Election time in Wales: time to talk alcohol?

On 6 May, voters in Wales elect the Members of the Senedd – the Welsh Parliament – for the next five years. We, and five other charities, are taking this opportunity to talk to politicians about alcohol harm.

Read the blog ([link removed])

** Alice’s Sober Spring story

Alice took part in Sober Spring last year, after having completed a sponsored 100-day alcohol-free challenge to raise money for the NHS. She’s now managed a whole lockdown-filled year alcohol-free!

Read the blog ([link removed])


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