LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will raise the tax rate on high-strength beer and cut duty on weaker beer from late 2011 as part of efforts to tackle alcohol abuse, the government said on Tuesday.
The new rates for beer containing more than 7.5 percent alcohol and for beer at or below 2.8 percent will be set out in the budget on March 23.
The move by the coalition follows action to clamp down on cheap, strong cider and forms part of the government’s wider public health strategy aimed at reducing the financial burden on health services.
“The government recognises that in some areas taxation can have a role in helping to address the harms associated with problem drinking,” Treasury minister Justine Greening said in a written statement to parliament.
Currently, the UK imposes duty worth 17.32 pounds for every percent of alcohol strength per 100 litres.
Industry bodies broadly welcomed the move as a way to improve incentives for low-strength beer producers.
“We need a duty system that nudges consumers to choose lower-strength, pub-based drinks such as beer,” said Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association.
“A more balanced system of alcohol taxation that would bring in more revenues, and create up to 30,000 jobs in the UK.”
Reporting by Matt Falloon, Writing by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Catherine Evans