LGA calls for tax breaks on lower-strength alcohol to help save pubs

By Emily Sutherland contact

- Last updated on GMT

Local Government Association lower strength alcohol

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

More alcohol-free and lower-strength beers, wines and ciders are needed to help tackle the ‘ticking time bomb’ of alcohol-related health problems, according to the Local Government Association (LGA.)

The group, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, urged the Government to extend tax breaks on lower-strength drinks, arguing a wider range would also help to ‘revitalise’ pubs.

Charging duty rates based on the strength of drinks would stop strong drinks being sold cheaply in supermarkets and off-licences, the LGA argued, and in turn stop the ‘death knell of pubs as the heart of the community.’

'New generation of non-drinkers'

Licensing spokesperson for the LGA’s safer communities board Tony Page said: "With a new generation of non-drinkers on the rise, there is a growing demand for greater choice in alcohol-free and weaker drinks, with several ‘dry bars' opening up across the country. Tax breaks for beer have helped fuel a rise in low-strength products. This should now be extended to cider, wine and spirits. This would support and reward the development of low-strength, low-harm drinks that are making a significant contribution to improving long-term health impacts, such as liver disease, and save money for the public purse.

"More lower-strength and alcohol-free drinks would also allow responsible workers to enjoy a lunch-time pint and those on medication or who are ‘going dry' for a period.

"The drinks industry and several retailers have gone some way to make and sell lower strength drinks, but we want them to go much further. Drinking habits are changing and brewers need to capitalise on this by producing a range of different options of drinks for people and to help to re-establish pubs as the vibrant, social heart of communities."

 A survey from the Campaign for Real Ale found 52% of drinkers would consume a lower-strength beer if it was on sale in their local pub.

Related topics: Beer, Cider, Wine

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