The pub industry attacked the rise in alcohol duty of two per cent above the rate of inflation, saying it “signs the death warrant” for thousands of pubs and jobs.
According to Treasury figures, the rise, which comes into force at midnight, will put 1p on a pint of beer or cider, 4p on a 75cl bottle of wine, and 13p on a 70cl bottle of spirits. But the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the “final impact” of a pint in the pub was more likely to be 5p.
Alistair Darling also announced a two per cent rise in tobacco duty which will add 7p to a pack of 20 cigarettes.
Ahead of the Budget, the BBPA and the Campaign for Real Ale ramped up their campaign to “Axe the Tax”.
They said 2,000 pubs had been forced to shut in the past 12 months after tax rises aimed at combating binge drinking were introduced last year.
The industry believes the new tax escalator, which will see three more two per cent rises in the next three years, puts up to 75,000 jobs at risk.
Mr Darling said the increases in alcohol and tobacco duty, combined with the increase in fuel duty, would raise more than £6 billion by 2012.