Buried deep within the current Budget is a decision to repeal a relief from payment of excise duty afforded to “Black Beer”. And frankly I’m shocked, in fact astounded, at the tight-fisted attitude of this government that this measure manifests.
You can read a copy of the notice about the repeal here.
In brief, Black Beer is a product produced by one brewer in Yorkshire. About 35,000 bottles (size not stated) of the stuff are produced each year and the consumers are, in the main it appears, retired gentlemen in Yorkshire (ie OAPs – receiving state pension I’ll bet). Its got an ABV of about 8.5% and by the sounds of it probably knocks one’s socks off if drunk in quantity – apparently its mixed with other things like lemonade and milk (mmm yummy!).
It was afforded relief from duty back in 1931 in order to ensure the survival of the product which was threatened by a massive hike in excise duty at the time.
Why am I aghast at its repeal?
Because it serves no purpose – there will be, according to the government’s analysis, no impact on exchequer funds by the repeal.
What the analysis does show is that the business itself will suffer because the requirement to pay duty will impact on its costs and as a consequence it may close – I don’t know how many people are employed in the production of Black Beer but even 1 unnecessary redundancy is 1 too many.
Further, the little old man of Yorkshire (and the tall ones and the women who have a taste for the stuff) are going to have to pay more for their beverage of choice. And frankly in times when the purchasing power of the pound in one’s pocket seems to be declining on a daily basis and most pensioners struggle financially, that’s rather unfair.
And why are the government doing this – to make the tax system simpler.
It is sacrificing a business, the livelihoods of its employees and the enjoyment of its consumers in order to tie up a loose end and make the tax system look tidy. Black Beer is a hanging thread.
Come on chaps, there are far more serious “issues” with our tax system that need correcting in the name of simplification than this.