Drinking your salary away

According to the Government, higher-paid people tend to drink more. Wonder why that could be?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

A Whitehall report released yesterday said that 51% of men and 47% of women earning over £1,000 a week drink more alcohol than the government’s recommended weekly limit (currently 21 units for men and 14 units for women). So next time one of your team asks you for a big pay rise, you can turn them down with a clear conscience – because it’s really for their own good.

What’s more, there are a lot more people in this category than there were 20 years ago. The (snappily entitled) ‘Diversity and Different Experiences in the UK’ report, which is presumably the work of some horribly expensive but largely irrelevant quango, revealed that Britain is now richer than ever before. The average net wealth of an individual has doubled since 1987, which coincides neatly with London’s explosive growth as a financial centre.

The report also suggests that it’s hard work being a manager – at least if drinking habits are anything to go by. Apparently male senior managers are getting through an average 22.9 units a week, while their female counterparts are necking 12.5 units. That’s twice as much as women in more junior roles – and to compound matters, one in five binge-drinks at least once a week, more than any other group.

But if the last Budget is anything to go by, the Government seemingly wants to perpetuate this situation. After all, with alcohol duty increased across the board and set to rise by 2% above inflation for the next four years, anyone who wants a drink in the next few years will need to be earning more than £1,000 a week.

The hike was positioned as an assault on binge-drinking, but it’s come under attack from all quarters – not just the usual suspects (like David Cameron and the pub industry) but even the Government’s own ministers. Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe cause some serious embarrassment yesterday when he told industry trade mag The Morning Advertiser that the pub industry was ‘right to be upset’ about it. ‘We, and I speak as a champion of the pub trade, want the Chancellor to change his mind,’ he said.

(Later, possibly realising that he’d just torpedoed any slim chance he may have had of getting a more important job, Sutcliffe kind of back-tracked, saying: ‘My comments do not accurately reflect my views’ – which we should probably read as: ‘Yes I did say that, but I got a serious ear-bashing from the whip’s office and am now beating a hasty retreat’)

But as long as the Government is determined to tax us up to the eyeballs for the privilege of having the odd glass of wine, higher earners are likely to remain the biggest boozers...

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