Cider proves bad apple of Darling’s eye

CIDER drinkers will bear the brunt of the chancellor’s latest “sin” tax swoop, after Alistair Darling yesterday said the drink had enjoyed a disproportionately lengthy tax holiday.

From midnight on Sunday, cider will face a tax increase of 10 per cent above inflation, a move the chancellor said would address a “long-standing anomaly which has meant cider has been under-taxed in comparison to other alcoholic drinks”.

The move comes eight years after Gordon Brown, then chancellor, cut the duty on the drink by two per cent, encouraging a boom in its popularity which has continued through to the present, when traditional and premium ciders are some of the country’s best-selling drink brands.

Darling yesterday also moved to extend the government’s commitment to raise duty on other alcoholic drinks by two per cent above inflation for a further three years, despite the pub industry’s well-documented decline in the recession.

Over 4,000 pubs have closed in the past two years, resulting in the loss of 40,000 jobs.
The move will effectively put 2p on a pint of beer, 10p on a bottle of wine, 12p on a bottle of sparkling wine and 36p on a bottle of spirits from midnight on Sunday.

“With nearly six pubs a day still closing, what community pubs and pub goers needed today was a lifeline, not a death knell,” said Mike Benner, the chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Duty on a packet of cigarettes was hiked by one per cent immediately, then at a rate of two per cent above inflation every year until 2014.