Booze budget: public is being punished Jeremy Beadles Chief executive, Wine & Spirit Trade Association Sir; While many retailers will have enjoyed a busy weekend ahead of the Budget price rises on alcohol, the harsh reality for consumers and the industry is less appealing ('Drinks industry slams 'booze cruise' Budget', The Grocer, 15 March, p72). It is no cause for celebration that British consumers face paying more tax on wine than anyone else in the European Union. It is bizarre at a time when the economy is slowing, prices are rising and many families are feeling the pinch that the government should choose to add to their burden by making the simple pleasure of a glass of wine or spirits considerably more expensive. We are surprised that a government that came to power promising to govern in the interests of the many now wishes to punish them. Our polling shows voters don't support this. Wine and spirit drinkers already face the prospect of price rises as a result of the increasing cost of raw materials - grapes, grain, packaging, glass, freight and energy. This tax hike will simply make things worse for the average consumer. That the government should commit itself and future governments to an above-inflation rate increase for alcohol for the next four years is hitting all drinkers for the sins of a minority even before it has received the results of its own report on Pricing, Promotions and Harm. A policy of commit now, hurt consumers now, study the issue later.