Proposals to save the British Pub and reduce antisocial behaviour
George Osborne has his day in the spotlight on 22nd June as he announces his new budget measures. First and foremost he needs to repair the nation’s finances. However, fiscal policy can also be used as a tool for good by influencing social policy. It is in this spirit that 63336 puts forward some simple but quite radical budget proposals that will not only help the exchequer but also promote greater social cohesion, curb anti-social behaviour and help save that great British institution – the pub.
What is the problem?
Extraordinarily cheap alcohol bought at supermarkets is the cause of the problem. This has driven many small off-licenses to the point of extinction and contributed to the mass exodus of people from the pub to their sitting rooms. This is a huge social change that has accelerated over the last 15 years with the explosion of multi-channel television but it has become most notable during the recent recession.
The explosion of cheap supermarket alcohol, some of it alledgedly sold below cost price, has also contributed to the increases in loutish, anti-social behaviour from youths as they fill up on cheap lagers at home before going out to clubs and bars later in the evening.
We at 63336 have seen this change first hand. When we first started the service in 2004 we received a lot of our questions from customers who were out and about enjoying the vibrant social scene. Now though, many of our questions now come from people watching television at home.
This change in customer habits has huge consequences for British society as a whole. People and families are going out less and interact less, leaving town centres in the evening as the preserve of a very narrow and increasingly loutish age group.
Unlike many commentators we don’t think the answer is to tax alcohol in pubs more – this will only drive more people to drink at home. Instead, we think the answer is to get more people, from all generations, back into the social scene. If more people went out, especially older people and parents then social and peer pressure would help curb loutish behaviour and binge drinking. To encorage this we need to ensure that drinking in pubs is affordable whilst alcohol purchased from supermarkets exceeds certain minimum pricing levels.
How do prices compare?
We conducted as quick experiment checking out the price of Becks beer at a supermarket and then at a pub. The difference is shocking.
Morrrisons- 30 bottles for £15 = £0.50 a bottle
Dog and Duck – local pub £3.50 a bottle
50p for a bottle of lager is clearly too low. Minimum pricing for all bottled lager should be imposed through a supermarket tax. At the same time help for the pub trade, already overloaded with bureaucracy and rules, should be available through a reduction in beer duty for alcohol purchased for consumption on those premises.
63336 budget proposals
1 Impose a tax of £3 on every bottle of lager/beer purchased in a supermarket
2 Reduce excise duty on beer and wine bought in pubs and restaurants by 50%
Change for good
Current, so-called market forces, are driving us to live in isolation from our neighbours and friends, communicating with one another through facebook and the internet, whilst watching wall-to-wall television. Supermarket price promotions on beers are encouraging this trend and, unless positive steps are taken by government to help the pub and restaurant trade, we will see further pub closures and further erosion of our traditional communities.
So we call on Mr Osbourne to act now and impose a super-tax on supermarket beers and reduce the tax on beer bought in pubs.