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'Per drink surcharge' could help fund councils

By Adam Pescod , 30-Aug-2011

Drink surcharge: Could help cover council costs, according to Lib Dems

Drink surcharge: Could help cover council costs, according to Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats have cited a 'per drink surcharge' as a possible means of covering the costs that drinkers impose on local councils.

As part of a wider consultation into local government funding, the new tax could help fund extra police, street cleaners and cover the cost of treating alcohol-related health problems.

However, there is concern that moderate drinkers will have to pay the surcharge if councils apply it too widely.
According to the consultation, “local councils should have the right and ability to raise additional taxes that they see appropriate for their circumstances.

“Councils could also raise revenues to cover the costs of specific extra costs and services that they bear.
“For example, a small per drink surcharge in town centre bars and pubs, borne by drinkers themselves, could offset additional policing and health costs that drinkers impose on councils, and therefore residents, in many towns and cities.”

There was no further detail in the consultation paper of how such a scheme could work, and the proposal drew criticism from Conservative MPs and drink industry figures.

Priti Patel MP, a Tory backbencher, told the <em>Daily Telegraph</em>: “This sounds like an ill-thought out idea. Putting more taxes on bars and the industry will not do anything to help them survive. Anybody who knows about how alcohol is taxed will recognise that the industry pays a lot more.”

BBPA spokesman Neil Williams added: “British pubgoers already pay some of the highest taxes in the world.
“Typically a third of the price of a pint – one pound – is tax, and so the last thing struggling pubs need is yet more taxes.”

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "This is not party policy but merely an example of how councils could raise revenues to cover extra costs. It is a small part of a wider consultation into local government funding."

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