Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

DRINKERS HAMMERED BEER UP 4p WINE UP 14p; Cool Reception: Alistair Darling outside No 11 Today

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

DRINKERS HAMMERED BEER UP 4p WINE UP 14p; Cool Reception: Alistair Darling outside No 11 Today

Article excerpt


A MASSIVE tax sting on drinkers was ordered this afternoon to help staveoff recession.

Alistair Darling slapped 4p on a pint of beer, 3p on cider and 14p on a bottleof wine and 55p on a bottle of Scotch, ending a 10-year freeze on spiritduties.

The rises, six per cent above inflation, were a blow for consumers in a Budgetthat also contained a shock for the City. Mr Darling embarked on a hugeborrowing spree to balance his books in the face of economic trouble in hisfirst Budget.

The Chancellor will borrow an eye-watering [pounds sterling]140 billion over the next fouryears[pounds sterling]20 billion more than he forecast in his pre- Budget report five months ago and[pounds sterling]32 billion more than Gordon Brown was predicting in his final Budget lastspring.

It was forced by a slowdown in growth that sent the Treasury's plans intomeltdown.

Growth forecasts for this year and next were downgraded by a quarter point,wiping billions from planned tax revenues.

Smokers were also hit, by 11p on a packet of 20 cigarettes and 4p on cigars.

There were only dutiful cheers for the Chancellor from Labour MPs when he satdown. His copy of his 52-minute speech was covered in scrawled amendments,which hinted at frantic re-calculations to make the sums add up.

David Cameron said the Budget contained "truly dreadful figures". He saidLabour was reaping a harvest for overspending in the past. "In the years ofplenty they put nothing aside," he claimed. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Cleggaccused Gordon Brown of an "act of political ventriloquism". He said Mr Darlingwas the Prime Minister's "creature" who had been left to clear up his economic"mess". Overall the Budget will mean [pounds sterling]2.5 billion extra being taken fromtaxpayers over the next three years.

Other victims of the Chancellor included the drivers of gas-guzzling cars, whowill be hit by [pounds sterling]950 vehicle excise duty in the first year when they buy a brandnew car. Those buying the greenest cars will pay no duty for a year. Asexpected, a 2p rise in petrol duty was postponed until October., to avoid itdriving prices over the [pounds sterling]5 a gallon mark. Company car drivers are also in theline of fire. The fine print of the Budget showed that the Treasury expects toclaw [pounds sterling]80 million from them. It also contained a clear pledge to develop "pay asyou drive" road pricing schemes.

The Tories claimed that drivers of ordinary family cars will also be clobberedfor example, the road tax on a Ford Mondeo two-litre diesel estate could doubleto [pounds sterling]425 in the first year. The fine detail of the Budget showed that the drinkstaxes are set to bring in [pounds sterling]1.5 billion over the next three years.

Beer drinkers were warned that a pint will cost [pounds sterling]6. …

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