Alcohol Action welcome NO reduction in alcohol excise duties in Budget 2021; regret alcohol’s continued affordability.

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, today (13 Oct) welcome that Budget 2021 has not reduced alcohol excise duties and that the Ministers, guided by public health alcohol policy, have not acquiesced to the extensive lobbying of the alcohol industry, who had sought a 15% reduction, which would have stimulated greater alcohol use.

We regret that the opportunity has not been taken to introduce a Cost-of-Living index to excise rates, as outlined in our Pre-Budget submission. This is the eighth year in a row that there has been no change to the excise duty regime.

There have now been only three additional changes to this regime in 20 years, over which time, Consumer Price Index inflation has increased by 27.4%, greatly enhancing the exceptional affordability of alcohol.

It is two years since the enactment of the Public Health Alcohol Act and Minimum unit pricing of alcohol products has still yet to be commenced.

The cost of dealing with alcohol-related inpatient healthcare accounts for 11% of all public healthcare expenditure  – approx. €1.9 billion annually/ €36.8m every week.

Alcohol Action also notes the additional allocation of €25m for Healthy Ireland and the National Drugs Strategy and look forward to details of this spend and greater funding for alcohol preventive initiatives and better recovery and treatment programmes.