Rishi Sunak mobbed at pub by merry drinkers after slashing booze prices


The Chancellor gave alcohol duty the biggest shake up in 140 years in a historic budget speech on Wednesday (Picture: Getty)

Rishi Sunak was mobbed at the pub hours after he cut the price of booze in a £150bn spending frenzy.

The teetotal Chancellor gave alcohol duty the biggest shake up in 140 years in a historic budget speech on Wednesday.

Afterwards he headed for a non-alcoholic half-pint at the Two Chairmen in Westminster, where he was pictured surrounded by crowds of drinkers.

Many looked happy to see the Chancellor, whose new policy means beer, prosecco and cider will become fractionally cheaper – though not for some time.

From February 2023, the price of a pint will fall by 3p as a ‘draught relief’ is introduced – a 5% cut to duty on draught beer and cider served from draught containers over 40 litres.

The Chancellor said that amounted to the biggest cut on the tax on beer in 50 years and the ‘biggest cut to cider duty since 1923’. 

Rishi Sunak was mobbed by merry pubgoers at the Two Chairman in Westminster (Picture: @christiancalgie / Guido)

A planned hike to duty on spirits, wine, cider and beer will also be axed – with the ‘irrational’ 28% duty on premium sparkling wines like prosecco and fruit ciders cut.

The Chancellor said that his overhaul to duty would deliver the ‘most radical simplification of alcohol duties for over 140 years’, resulting in a ‘simpler, fairer and healthier’ system.   

But some drinks – including red wine and ‘white’ cider – will become more expensive in a bid to ‘end the era of cheap high-strength drinks’.

There are currently 15 bands of alcohol tax, with that number to be slashed to six.

The new system will follow the rule ‘the stronger the drink, the higher the rate’.

The changes in alcohol duties have been accompanied by business rate cuts and freezes for hospitality, including a 50% business rates discount up to a maximum of £110,000.

The policies have been largely welcomed by the drinks industry, though some have suggested the plans could have gone further.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said pubs, brewers and beer drinkers ‘will be toasting the chancellor today’.

She said freezing beer duty instead of increasing it will save £177m and secure 9,000 jobs across the UK and the 5% lower duty rate on draught beer is worth £62m.

‘However, the overall beer duty rate in the UK remains amongst the highest in Europe,’ she said.

And she said the cap of £110,000 on the business rate discount is ‘a huge dampener and means a significant number of pubs will not benefit from the relief at all’.

Elsewhere in the budget, the Chancellor announced billions of spending on schools, transport, the NHS and rising wages.

The huge raft of announcements also saw the fuel duty scrapped, a tax on domestic flights axed and a cut on the Universal ‘taper’ rate – meaning claimants will get 8p more for every pound they earn.

Mr Sunak said the budget does not draw a line under Covid, but does begin the work of building an economy ‘based on high skills and wages following the pandemic’.

But Labour hit out at the package of measures announced by the Chancellor, which slash taxes for banks, saving them around £4bn.

Critics also said the Budget will do little to address the cost of living crisis.

The new measures will leave the overall tax burden at its highest since the final period of Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government 70 years ago.

Think Tank the Resolution Foundation said this burden combined with higher growth, rising inflation and more public spending than previously expected means Britain could be set for a ‘flat recovery for household living standards’.

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Meanwhile, the Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) Paul Johnson said Britons can expect ‘at least half a decade of stagnant living standards at best’.

Inflation is expected to rise from 3.1% to 4% next year, meaning shoppers face higher prices on things like food, energy bills and filling up their car, while monthly mortgage repayments could also increase by hundreds of pounds.

The Chancellor has resisted pressure to cut VAT on energy bills, despite calls to help families struggling with soaring prices.

He defended himself during media rounds this morning, saying he does not have a ‘magic wand’ to make cost of living pressures disappear.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the impact of inflation on price increases, he said: ‘I addressed inflation yesterday in the Budget speech, and I know people will have concerns about that and I wanted to provide a bit of an explanation and some reassurance on what was going on.

‘It is largely down to two global forces: one is the impact of rapidly reopening economies putting pressure on global supply chains and the other factor is, of course, energy prices.

‘I wish I did but I don’t have a magic wand that can make those global challenges disappear, they are going to be with us for a little while.

‘But where the Government can make a difference, we are – whether it is the tax cut, whether it is freezing fuel duty, whether it is helping people with energy bills through the winter, where we have put support in place, we are doing what we can.’

Key announcements from the Budget at a glance

Here are the main points from Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget:

  • The Budget is focused on the ‘post-Covid’ era that the Chancellor says will will pave the way for the ‘Prime Minister’s economy of higher wages, higher skills, and rising productivity’.
  • Independent forecaster the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has scaled down its assumption of the scarring effect of Covid-19 on the economy from 3% to 2%
  • The OBR has downgraded its unemployment forecast due to the coronavirus pandemic from 12% down to 5.2%
  • The minimum wage will increase to to £9.50 an hour next year, up from the current £8.91.
  • The Universal Credit taper rate will be cut by 8% from no later than December 1, bringing it down from 63% to 55%.
  • Alcohol duty is being ‘radically’ simplified by introducing a system designed around the principle of ‘the stronger the drink, the higher the rate’
  • A ‘draught relief’ will apply a lower rate of duty on draught beer and cider, cutting the tax by 5% on drinks served from draught containers over 40 litres and bringing the price of a pint down by 3p.
  • A planned rise in fuel duty will be cancelled because of pump prices being at their highest level in eight years.
  • Flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be subject to a new lower rate of Air Passenger Duty from April 2023.
  • Every Whitehall department will receive a ‘real terms rise in overall spending’ as part of the Spending Review, amounting to £150 billion over this Parliament.
  • Mr Sunak confirmed a levy will be placed on property developers with profits over £25 million at a rate of 4% to help create a £5 billion fund to remove unsafe cladding.
  • Devolved administrations will be given the ‘largest block grants’ since 1998, with an increase to Scottish Government funding in each year by an average of £4.6 billion, £2.5 billion for the Welsh Government, and £1.6 billion for the Northern Ireland Executive.
  • An extra £2.2 billion has been announced for courts, prisons and probation services, including £500,000 to reduce the courts backlogs.
  • £300 million will go towards ‘A Start for Life’ parenting programmes, with an extra £170 million by 2024/25 going into paying for childcare.
  • The Chancellor said core science funding will rise to £5.9 billion a year by 2024-25, a cash increase of 37%.
  • A new 50% business rates discount will apply in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, with eligible businesses able to claim a discount on their bills of up to a maximum of £110,000.
  • Ahead of the Budget statement, £7 billion transport funding was announced for areas including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire for projects ranging from tram improvements to introducing London-style improvements in infrastructure, but only £1.5 billion of this was believed to be “new” funding.
  • A £6 billion package of funding will help tackle NHS backlogs and invest in technology was also trailed ahead of the statement.
  • Rishi Sunak has also promised an additional £11million funding to support the UK’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Autumn Budget 2021: All the key points from Rishi Sunak’s plan

Rishi Sunak has announced the largest increase in public spending in a century in a budget that has promised ‘the start of a new post-Covid economy’.

Many of the headline policies include a rise in the national living wage and a pledge to spend billions on the NHS.

Here are the main changes you need to know about:

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