Yesterday's news was dominated by the concerns expressed about binge drinking and the effects it is having on the nation's health.
Health chiefs are queueing up to recount the dangers of binge drinking among the young. The Centre for Public Health at John Moores University surveyed young people and found that they regularly “pre-loaded” up on drink at home before spending the rest of the evening necking pints.
Professor Mark Bellis concludes that while city centre pubs and clubs are making efforts to control binge drinking – nothing is being done to reduce the sales in off-licences and supermarkets. This, he contends, is the real problem. Drinkers are already pickled before they embark on an evening out. He points to the “ridiculously cheap” price of alcohol in supermarkets as the prime cause of drunks populating our city centres in the evening.
I say: hang on to your wallets! A big rise in the duty on alcohol is right over the horizon.
The logic is not hard to follow. Good Old Gordo has just about sucked the life out of the duty on petrol and diesel. There is no room for manoeuvre on income tax or national insurance. The economy is slowing and house prices (chief arbiter of the nation's feel-good factor) are falling. (It's enough to drive anyone to the bottle!) To cap his day, England are about the be knocked out of the European Cup before they even get there – and by Abramovic's Russia no less!
It's not a good time to be PM. You can almost visualise the scenario where Gordo quits and begs Tony to come back and fact the music – the music for which he wrote the notes!
So, searching for some way to balance (only figuratively) the books, GOG needs a scapegoat. Cheap booze for the masses may be it. At least, he thinks so.
Wait a minute! Isn't this the bean-counter who has kept the duty on booze below inflation for the last ten years? Isn't, then, GOG the one to blame if booze is too cheap and fuelling a “let's get it down our necks fast” culture!
Best case – in the next budget the duty on alcohol will be raised substantially. Worse case – GOG will find a way to raise the duty now – before the Christmas rush so he can really rake in the cash!
Remember, you heard it here first.
I wonder if it's possible to bet on an above-inflation rise in the duty on beer, wine and spirits in the next budget?
Can't stop, bit short of readies, must get down to William Hills before it closes – there is some easy money to be made if they will take the bet.