‘Beer and Bingo’ have become two key words in the 2014 UK budget as the Conservative Chairman, Grant Shapps, tweets a controversial pictogram that subsequently went viral.
Are you a hardworking UK citizen?
Are you grateful for the decrease in bingo and beer duty?
Well according to the Conservative party you should be after the Chairman of the party, Grant Shapps, tweeted a 2014 Budget pictogram that has been called ‘condescending,’ ‘ill conceived’ and ‘patronizing.’
— Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) March 19, 2014
The tweet went viral after the 2014 Budget saw beer duty cut by 1p per pint and taxation on bingo cut halved from 20% to 10%.
The Deputy Prime Minister called the tweet ‘silly,’ Labour’s Ed Balls called it ‘incredibly patronizing,’ and the Liberal Democrats Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander, said it ‘demeans some quite sensible’ budget measures.
Shapps has so far refused to apologies for tweeting the pictogram and there doesn’t seem to be one coming in the near future.
The tweet was met with a series of counter tweets, one of which showed the smiling face of David Cameron on a poster saying, “Drink beer and gamble. You plebs enjoy that sort of thing,” and, “Bingo! Cutting £220m, from Legal Aid to spend £200m on fixing potholes.”
The Chancellor, George Osborne, spoke about the beer and bingo duty on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I think it’s patronizing to say that it doesn’t matter what the price of beer is or that it doesn’t matter that we help our bingo halls because three-quarters of bingo halls have closed in recent decades. These are important budget measures, they’re not the only budget measures, and this whole story which I notice the BBC have been covering last night and this morning, was whipped up by a Labour party that didn’t have anything else to say about the economy.”
The news that Bingo duty would drop from 20% to 10% came as a complete surprise to industry insiders who, at the very least, were expecting a return to the 15% rate that they used to enjoy back in 2009, and the same rate that bookmakers have to pay on sports betting.
Ian Burke, chief executive of Rank Group, which operates 97 Mecca Bingo clubs across the UK, said: “Today’s announcement is an important boost for Britain’s bingo clubs, which provide a range of social and economic benefits for the communities they serve. By bringing bingo duty into line with other forms of gaming entertainment, the government has created a basis for renewed investment and innovation.”
Rank’s shares rose by 7.5% and the company said it would now consider opening more venues.